‘E-roll cleaning package’ to weed out duplicate voters

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The Election Commission in India has deployed an 'E-roll cleaning' package to weed out duplicate voters from the electoral rolls in five states where Assembly elections are to be held shortly.Faced with “huge complaints” of stuffing of electoral rolls in West Bengal, a problem it had faced in Tamil Nadu last year, the Election Commission is deploying high technology to tackle it even as it warned of “very harsh” steps against false declarations to enter into the electoral rolls.


'Roll and Poll' would be the watchword and the Commission hopes to fully utilise its 'e-roll cleaning' package to remove dead and shifted voters, known as “duplicate voters”, from the electoral rolls.


An in-house technology 'E-roll cleaning' was used on an experimental basis in the Bihar Assembly polls and the Commission is planning to replicate the experiment in these five states, Chief Election Commisioner B B Tandon told PTI in an interview.


“The Commission is making a very sincere and concerted effort to remove duplicate names from the rolls”, Tandon said. The exercise of inclusion and deletion of names would continue after the publication of final rolls till the last date of filing of nomination papers, he said.


Noting that “huge complaints” had come from political parties on the “stuffing” of electoral rolls in West Bengal, he said that 19 Observers appointed by the Commission to look into the complaints would submit their reports to the EC on their return on February 10.


Observing that the deletion of duplicate names was done after following procedures like due verification and giving notices and hearing, the CEC said nearly a million names from West Bengal rolls and over three lakh names from the Tamil Nadu rolls were removed. Asserting that the poll panel would also address the issue of “booth jamming”, he said the main thrust before the EC was to ensure a clean electoral rolls in the states going to polls.


While the final publication of electoral rolls in West Bengal has been fixed for February 22 in view of the huge number of deletion and inclusion of the names, the final voters' list in Tamil Nadu would be completed on February 12.


He said a similar exercise to remove duplicate voters from the rolls in Tamil Nadu was carried out last year and the result was “good”.


The Commission has taken special efforts to include names of those displaced by the killer tsunami waves that hit Tamil Nadu coasts in December 2004 and the devastating floods that affected more than 30 districts in the State.


Two special campaigns would be launched in Tamil Nadu on February four and 12 to allow eligible voters to get their names included in the rolls, he said.


“We are keeping a close watch and the Commission will be very harsh on those who give false certificate for inclusion of names in the rolls”, EC officials said adding that EC was monitoring the rolls work on weekly basis by getting inputs from the poll officials from states. Observing that the Commission has recently introduced a “track” programme on the execution of non-bailable warrants pending for more than six months, they said a total of 63,724 such NBWs were pending in West Bengal and 8,119 in Tamil Nadu.


The Commission had already filed 470 cases against those who had filed wrong claims for stuffing of names in the rolls in Tamil Nadu, the officials said adding that strict instructions have been issued to Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) to follow EC guidelines.


Tandon said the problem of insurgency and the law and order would be under constant watch of the Commission and arrangements would be made for adequate security during the polls in Assam.


In order to ensure cent per cent correctness in the rolls, the Commission has asked the poll officials to re-verify the rolls wherever there was four per cent increase in the rolls in the 13 constituencies in Pondicherry.

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