With assembly elections due in Delhi later this year, chief electoral officer Vijay Dev gets candid in an interview to Atul Mathur on issues ranging from 'missing' voters, inclusion of new voters and campaigns to motivate more people, especially youth, to come out and vote. Excerpts from the interview:
The recent house-to-house survey done by booth level officers has found about 14 lakh voters not available on the registered address. Can we assume they are 'fake' voters?
The first of its kind house-to-house survey was done with an objective to enroll new voters and delete those who are not available on the address given by them. We now have the assembly-segment wise data of all voters. Our booth level officers have found almost 14 lakh voters not available on their registered address. But it does not mean they are fake voters. The law says the report submitted by the BLO is not sufficient proof that those voters do not exist. We will soon start serving notice to these voters and if they fail to respond, their names will be deleted from the electoral rolls through due process of law. The exercise will be completed by April 15.
Delhi has not done well in the past in terms of adding new voters (18-19 years of age) or women voters. What are you doing about it?
In 2012 annual summary revision of electoral roll the number of voters went up by almost 4.2 lakh, while in the past few years this number increased by almost two lakh annually. The Election Commission has declared 2013 as the 'year of the electoral roll'. The focus is on 'purifying the electoral roll' by including more eligible voters - youth, women, and homeless' and deletion of non-existent with the due process of law. We got the database of the youth from the directorate of education and Delhi University. We organised special camps and the number of such voters jumped from 93,000 to two lakh. We earlier had 62 homeless voters and the number now is 6,500. We have also identified the areas where the number of women voters is less. We are going to organise special camps in March where women staff will be deputed and will add more women voters too.
Eligible voters often do not know how to register themselves.
One can go to the voter centre in the respective assembly constituency. Our polling station-wise electoral roll is available online in pdf format along with the google map. Every detail including the documents required, who are officers concerned, the location of polling station et al is available online. One can also go to the deputy commissioner officer of their area or can also come to Delhi election office to register as a voter. One can even apply online.
Delhi will go to polls later this year and the parliament elections are also due in 2014. How are you educating people about the importance of casting votes?
The election commission has started a programme called Special Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) to create awareness through media. We also launched a campaign called 'teeka lagao' and roped in cricketer Virat Kohli as icon to reach out to youth. I also believe that our electoral rolls are inflated rolls. Once we complete our summary revision exercise and delete non-existent voters the actual voting percentage will automatically increase. As elections draw nearer more such campaigns will be launched.