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Address verification plays a pivotal role in the democratic process

Richard Jones

May 19, 2014

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For any government office that holds regular elections, it's important to have accurate, up-to-date information about who can vote and where they live. Without that basic knowledge, it can be difficult to keep the public sector running smoothly.

Obviously, this principle holds true in the United States, where the democratic process is the country's lifeblood, but it's just as important internationally. Around the world, there are nations that thrive on running elections in a just and timely fashion, and one hiccup in address verification can be catastrophic.

One recent example of a slip-up comes from India, where a major election mishap has made national news. This year's elections in the state of Haryana have been marred by numerous ballots being mailed to the wrong addresses - out of 102,000 ballots, it appears that as many as 28,943 were sent in error, determined undeliverable and returned to the election office. This included 6,479 in the district of Rohtak, 6,242 in Bhiwani-Mahendergarh and 5,312 in Gurgaon.

According to the Hindustan Times, there's currently some confusion over how this happened and who's to blame. Shrikant Walgad, the chief electoral officer in the area, said that the defense ministry was supposed to be in charge of address management, but that responsibility is being transferred to the Election Commission of India. Meanwhile Indian National Lok Dal, the principal opposition party in Haryana, is filing a similar complaint with the chief election commissioner at New Delhi. Problems stemming from incorrect addresses continue to swirl nationwide.

This problem is not restricted to India - government offices worldwide need to worry about the contact information they have for their voting citizens and the quality of that information. Knowing the citizenry is a vital aspect of ensuring a smooth, trustworthy democratic process anywhere in the world.

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