“A voter card can also be used to open a bank account”
These people already live on the margins of society, so we wanted to give them a chance to express themselves; if they don’t have a voice, people won’t worry about their fate. We started discussing this project with the electoral commission of Delhi in 2004, and a handful of homeless people were able to vote in legislative elections in 2009.
For this year’s elections, we registered 12,000 homeless people. The commission gave us registration forms, and as many homeless are illiterate, we helped them fill out the documents. We then had to visit them several times to check that they were staying at the address they had given us so that they would receive their voter card. In general, the homeless only gave the name of a street or a bridge, and the electoral commission agents went to find them to give them their voter cards in person.The voter card is very important because in India, not only does it allow you to vote, it can also be used as a piece of identification. It gives the homeless access to basic services that they haven’t been able to receive until now, such as opening a bank account, for example.
“They are happy to have a voice in the country’s affairs”
I know a man named Sudir who does odd jobs at construction sites. He has been in New Delhi for 20 years and today lives in a homeless shelter. He received his voter card last December and he is really happy to be able to get involved in the country’s affairs.
He voted for the Aam Aadmi Party [the “Common Man’s” party, which is running on an anti-corruption platform] because he was impressed by their promises to improve the living conditions of homeless people by opening more shelters and creating more jobs.