Thiruvananthapuram: The allegations raised by opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala that there were duplicate and multiple entries in the voters’ list have been vindicated by the commission (EC).
Chief electoral officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena said on Monday that the duplication happened as booth-level officers (BLOs), who are supposed to verify applications received for entry of names into voters’ list, hadn’t verified them physically by visiting the applicants’ homes, he said.
The CEO said that in the primary investigation conducted by district collectors, the matters raised in the petition were found to be correct as there were several duplicate entries. He said that on the basis of the investigation, 590 double entries were found in Vaikom (1,606 was flagged by UDF), 434 in Idukki (1,168 was raised by UDF), 570 in Chalakudy (570 was in the complaint), 800 in Palakkad (2,400 was flagged by UDF) and 640 in Kasaragod (1,053 raised by UDF).
However, Meena added that Kerala is not the only place where such duplicate entries were found in the list. He said 26 lakh duplicate entries were found across India. He said that the state had removed 60,000 double/multiple entries till Jan 20. There were 64 lakh double entries in the list till Jan 1, 2019 and hence ECI was insisting on constant purification of the list.
In the case of Uduma in Kasaragod, where Chennithala had said that one voter named Kumari was issued five election identity cards, Meena said that the mistake happened at the hands of the assistant electoral registration officer, who had issued duplicate cards even without the recommendation of BLO. The officer was suspended, pending an inquiry, he said.
Meena said that the commission is taking steps to ensure that the voter, who figured more than once in the list, votes only in the polling booth where he/she is supposed to vote. For this purpose, BLOs are verifying where the voter resides and which polling booth he or she is supposed to vote. He said that verification process is on in all 140 constituencies. BLOs undertaking inspection will prepare a booth-wise list that will be shared with the presiding officers.
EC has finalized a list of 2,74,46,039 voters in state for elections, by including the 9,22,079 applications received after Jan 20 this year. Regarding several complaints raised by some political parties that they are unable to find booth agents in opposition party strongholds, Meena said EC has relaxed rule and it would now allow a voter of the constituency to become a polling agent for a political party.
Meanwhile, Chennithala has sought ECI’s immediate intervention after 3,24,291 duplicate voters were found by Congress workers in 135 constituencies. He added that the number of duplicate voters are enough to influence the results of an election. In his letter to chief election commissioner Sunil Arora, he said that there is a very organized attempt to topple elections.