Lok Sabha 2009: Can Facebook further electoral democracy?

The complaints about the system are heard year-round, but even during election time, which is really payback time, the members of the middle class in India don’t seem to be ready to act.

No one will argue with the thesis that after they get power, political parties make it difficult for the average voter to exercise their franchise. Getting enrolled on the voter list, securing an electors photo identity card that has correct name and address, and making changes to personal details after, say shifting residence, are all turned into staggering obstacles.

For most people this is sufficient deterrent, and they prefer to abandon their quest to vote.

To add to difficulties, even basic information that was available has disappeared from the web. The website of the Election Commission of India appears to have crashed, even before the campaigning has begun. There is some rudimentary information on the website of the Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer. Not much help, though, in practical terms, because the voter list updating process is done by the Chennai Corporation, which does not have the most efficient practices.

Many of the 43 million new voters in the country, including young people, are taking to other online avenues to seek and provide information. One of these is Young Voters Unlimited, a  forum on the coming Lok Sabha elections.

It is heartening to see many youth enrolled here, ready to participate in the process. That is the first step to get things working.

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