Civil groups raise concerns over missing voters names | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Civil groups raise concerns over missing voters names

Jun 01, 2024 05:31 PM IST

Names are deleted from the list in three cases, if people are absent at least thrice, have shifted, or are deceased, as checked by the booth level officer. If the names were deleted after December 2023, the voters still have an option to vote if their names are on the deleted list at every polling booth

Mumbai: Concerns over the hundreds of missing names from the voters list, civil society organisations and citizens groups have approached the state election commission and already begun preparing for the rectification in time for the next elections, the assembly elections likely to be held before or after October 2024.

Civil groups raise concerns over missing voters names
Civil groups raise concerns over missing voters names

“When my family got the voting slips,” said Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Gandhi at a press conference on Friday, “My son’s name was distorted beyond belief. My surname is all I have - and it was made gibberish. His gender was also wrong. If he was in the country, he would have had a hard time voting.”

Apart from Gandhi, many prospective voters were turned away on voting day, Monday, due to their names being missing from the electoral rolls.

“At least 25 people’s names were missing from the list at every booth in Bandra West and beyond,” said activist Former principal of St Xavier’s College Frazer Mascarenhas. “Imagine the extent of the missing names, if this is only the tip of the iceberg we’re aware of.”

The Sabha met with the additional chief electoral officer, Kiran Kulkarni, before and on voting day. “Kulkarni was helpful, and even on voting day, informed us that if any names were missing from the voting list, the person should ask the booth officer for the deleted list. If their name is present in the deleted list, they should be allowed to vote. Despite our publicising this, very few people could use it, as polling officers were not corporate,” said D’Souza.

Soon after voting day, the Sabha began collecting names and information of those missing from the electoral rolls. The list is now 42 people long, informed Lilian Pais from the Sabha, with the majority from Bandra.

“We will continue collecting names and help these individuals re-register as voters so they can vote in the state elections,” said Pais.

Another citizens group in the area, AGNI, also followed suit with a similar campaign, meeting the additional chief electoral officer on May 22. “We’ve collected a list of 20 names as of yet which we handed to Kulkarni. With the ECI, we’re planning to hold a camp for the registration of these voters,” said Karan D’Lima.

What is strange, D’Lima continued, is the possible reasons given by Kulkarni. “He said names are deleted if the person is dead, moved away, or not at home. But the last reason is absurd; why would they remove names if someone is not at home?”

At the press conference held by the Sabha, Bharat Jodo Abhiyan, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and other organisations, concerns were also raised about the voter count being updated days after voting day.

“We’re attempting to raise awareness that the voting figures will be cross checked on June 4, when the votes are being counted,” said Teesta Setalvad from the CJP. “There is a form 17C that is distributed to every candidate, the ECI, and kept in the EVM after voting, with information about the number and demographic of voters. Before counting begins, the candidates should cross check the numbers in the form with them with the one in the EVM. If the number of votes exceeds the number of voters in the form while counting, it should be stopped immediately.”

Explaining the missing names, Kulkarni said, “Names are deleted from the list in three cases, if people are absent at least thrice, have shifted, or are deceased, as checked by the booth level officer. If the names were deleted after December 2023, the voters still have an option to vote if their names are on the deleted list at every polling booth. If the names were deleted before, the legal procedure was followed.”

Another possibility could be that the names were shifted to a different polling booth, he said, as a part of the routine reorganisation process done before each election.

“We reminded citizens time and time again to check whether their name was on the electoral roll at least one month before voter day, by advertisements and press releases and more. But people only check on voting day,” he said, appealing for people start the process in time for the next elections.

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