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The Indian Millennial’s Quick Guide To Voting Rights

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Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #JetSetVote, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook India have come together to create a community of millennials who are aware and informed about their voter rights and responsibilities, through a series of workshops organised in collaboration with PRIA across 50 campuses. If you're a student, teacher or admin member, register your college to organise a fun session!

Attaining 18 years of age is an important milestone in our lives. Suddenly, we’re adults who are allowed all the basic rights that an average citizen enjoys. But there’s also an important responsibility that comes with turning 18 – the responsibility to vote, choose our leaders and make our contribution towards improving our country. And it’s not a difficult process at all!

Here’s the voting process, simplified for you!

Why should you vote?

For all those times you’ve complained, saying “Nothing can be done to change this country!” voting is a chance to begin the change.

We belong to the largest democracy in the world and a democracy runs on the power of its people. Taking off an hour from your schedule to cast a vote is a crucial step to take in changing the way things are run in the country. It makes you a participatory citizen and an agent of change. Your vote influences the way your constituency, district, city and country are governed and how local and national issues are resolved. You can also hold the representatives you elect responsible for the actions taken, thanks to this deciding power.

Most importantly, it gives you a voice, your unique voice, to be heard and heeded. And while it might seem insignificant, it’s undisputedly one of the most important decisions you can take, a decision that can make all the difference to your country and people!

When can you vote?

The first step to voting is to get enrolled as a voter. Anyone who’s 18 years as of January 1 of the year that electoral rolls are prepared, can enrol for voting.

Electoral rolls consist of lists of all eligible voters who’ve registered to vote, and it is based on these that voters are assigned polling booths from where they can cast their votes.

Where can you vote from?

The EC registers a person in the constituency where they ordinarily reside, and in case you move from your residence, the EC needs to be intimated. You can vote only from one location in India.

Can you vote without a voter ID card?

Every registered voter is given an identification card, called Electors’ Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or the Voter ID Card. However, while casting your vote, other commonly accepted proofs of identification are PAN card, driving license, ration card, student’s ID card and passport.

Young women after voting in India.

How can you register to vote?

You can register to vote by applying in Form 6 before the Electoral Registration Officer in the following ways:
– Online at www.eic.nic.in or respective state’s Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEOs) website.
– By post, after downloading and filling Form 6.
– By hand, after downloading and filling Form 6.

What are your rights if your name isn’t on the electoral rolls?

Simply having ID isn’t enough to vote. If your name isn’t on the electoral roll, you will not be permitted to vote.

You can get disqualified from voting for any of the following reasons:

– If you’ve become a citizen of another country.
– If you’ve been declared ‘mentally unsound’ by a court.
– If you’ve been found guilty of corrupt electoral practices.
– If you’re found to be impersonating another person.

You can check if your name is on the electoral roll with the Electoral Registration Officer of your area. For major cities, this information is also made available online on official websites.

Whom can you approach for grievance redressals related to electoral issues?

– Chief Electoral Officer (State Level)
– District Election Officer (District Level)
– Returning Officer (Constituency Level)
– Assistant Returning Officer (Taluka/ Tehsil Level)
– Presiding Officer (Polling Station)

Two women holding their voter ID cards. Image source: Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Do you have a right to not vote?

If for any reason, you wish to decline from voting, that is a right you can exercise. What you need to do is go to the polling booth and inform the Presiding Officer. In such a situation, your finger will be inked, but you will not be asked to cast a vote.

Can you refrain from choosing a candidate without refraining from voting?

Yes, you can use the newly introduced NOTA option on the ballot paper to cast a vote without selecting any particular candidate.

What happens if someone else has cast the vote in your name?

If in case someone else has cast the vote in your name, you still have the right to vote, using a tendered ballot paper. This will be collected by the Presiding Officer and kept separately. But this vote will not be counted unless there is a narrow margin between the winning candidate and his rival.

Do you have the right to proxy voting and postal ballots?

People on election duty, armed forces personnel and those who are in preventive detention can vote using postal ballots (casting votes through post).

Armed forces personnel, police and government officials posted outside India can also avail of proxy voting, by authorising another to cast their votes.

Do you have the right to be enrolled from more than one place?

A person cannot be enrolled in more than one location in a constituency or in any other constituency, as it is illegal.

As a voter, what information about candidates is available to you?

As per the rules of the EC, you have a right to access to the following information about the candidates before voting:

a) Their criminal antecedents.
b) Their assets and liabilities and those of his/her spouse and dependents.
c) Their educational background.
d) Copies of their nomination papers and accompanying affidavits.
e) Details of any dues owed by the candidates to the Government.

You do not have the right to:

– Offer or accept money, gratification or any other inducement to vote or not vote for a particular candidate.
– Induce another elector on grounds of religion, caste or community to influence another elector’s vote.
– Threaten another elector with excommunication to vote or not vote for a particular candidate.

#JetSetVote is a nationwide movement by YKA and Facebook India to make voting fun, interesting and engaging for the Indian millennial and empower you with your voting rights and responsibilities. Read more here and pledge your vote today – because every vote counts!
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Featured image source: Gagan Nayar/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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