I am an Indian citizen. Proud to be a part of one of the most diverse countries in the world. Proud to be one of the nine hundred million people eligible to vote this year. That’s 900,000,000! While that number is staggering in it’s sheer volume, what’s equally staggering is how frustrating our government websites are. Take for example the website of the Election Commission of India, where an NRI like me can apply to vote from overseas.
You’d think that in 2019, with all the advances in technology, the site would be a breeze, but no. This site frustrated me so much that I knew I had to write about it!
Like I said earlier, I am a citizen of India and that gives me the right to vote. As an NRI, I still have the opportunity to vote, but I must first go through the (painful) process of filling out – Form 6a.
Look, I know this might come across as nitpicking , but I need to do this for so many reasons, not least of all because I pay my taxes to the government and expect a quality experience in return.
Form 6a is probably going to be the reason I’ll get left behind this election!– a very frustrated me
The Homepage Of The Election Commission
To start off with, the official Election Commission website wouldn’t load every time. It seemed to be as moody as your typical government official, brooding over the fact that they have to actually go to the office and do any actual work, constantly irritated and needy for a bribe to get things done. Maybe I needed to bribe the site to get it to work?
Anyway, when it finally loaded, five refresh commands later, I’m greeted with a homepage header video 1:27:27 hours long! What!? WHY!? Who makes these decisions?
Scroll down to the next section and I found links to useful information, and in section three there are ways to find out if my name is on the voters list or if I need to register to vote. Up to this point, everything was going great and I clicked on ‘Enroll As A NRI Voter’.
Side note: what’s correct? An NRI or a NRI? I consulted the internets and they said:
Election Commission Voter Application Form 6a
Moving on, I clicked the button and depending on how the site felt it would either load or not.
Now to fill in the form. Seemed simple enough, but after filling it multiple times over the course of 1 hour (the form shouldn’t have taken more than 5 minutes max.), I’d had enough. So, here are some pointers from my experience that may or may not help you.
Top 3 Things That Can Go Wrong While Filling Form 6a On The Website Of The Indian Election Commission
1 You fill in the form but certain drop-down sections refuse to load a.k.a dropdown with the options. Since they are mandatory fields, you have to reload the entire form and loose everything you’ve already filled.
2 You have to fill some information in a regional language and it’s possible you aren’t very fluent, so you have to make-up words that sound like your name and hope all goes well. Interestingly, one of the times I filled this form, the other language version would update my details automatically and was in Hindi! So it’s all up to chance.
3 In the event that you manage to fill out the entire form, (for the 10th time or more, having foreseen all possible errors and having tried multiple browsers) and it looks like you can finally hit that submit button, think again.
I’m usually a patient person and when I set my mind on something, I usually see it through to completion, but this? I don’t know! No matter what I tried it would not work. Even as I write this blog post, I’m angry and irritated with what I’ve just been through. I’m not happy to just ‘put up with this’. Why should I?
Am I alone in this experience or have others faced the same thing? Will I be unable to vote because some technical guy hired to do create this form was too lazy to test it but got well-paid anyway? Will the government read this blog post and fix the form? Do they care?
I have so many questions and so few answers. In the end though, if nothing else, let it be said, “technology left this voter behind”!
Are you an NRI who’s been trying to sign-up to vote in your country of residence? Or have you already been successful at filling and submitting form 6a? What has your experience been?