It’s now official. The election authorities here have detected 76 lakh ‘suspect’ voters on the electoral rolls of 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar!
A good number of these are suspected to be ‘duplicate’ entries on the rolls – the appearance of the name of one person on the electoral rolls of two or more assembly constituencies of the state.
But a number of them may be 'fake' entries – persons who don’t exist but who have been enlisted as voters.
However, Bihar's chief electoral officer (CEO) Ajay Nayak 'clarified' late Friday evening that most of the suspect entries on the voters' lists had been found on verification to be 'duplicate entries, rather than 'fake' entries.
"As such, it would be inaccurate to describe them as 'ghost" entries", Nayak told HT late Friday evening.
Screening of the rolls by the election authorities has established Patna and Nalanda as districts with the highest number of duplicate/fake entries.
“There are 5.84 lakh duplicate/fake entries in Patna district and 3.40 lakh in Nalanda district. Their presence on the rolls is at once mind boggling and an eye-opener”, said an official in the know of things.
He said the Election Commission of India (ECI) sensed something was amiss with the composition of electoral rolls after detecting a discrepancy between the number of voters registered and the numbers of voter cards issued.
In Nalanda, for instance, the ratio of voters registered versus the voters’ cards issued, based on 2001 census, was 54:60, that is, out of every 100 population in the district, 54 were registered as voters but voter cards were issued to 60 persons.
In Patna, the ratio stood at 56:61.
“The figures for these district testified to the presence of ghost voters for two reasons. One, the number of voters registered (at 54 to 100 population in Nalanda and 56 to 100 in Patna) was significantly higher than the state’s average of 52 to 100. Two, voter cards in each case were issued to more persons than those registered as voters,” explained a source.
Thereafter, a closer scrutiny of records revealed the two districts had a high number of duplicate voters, an official, seeking anonymity, said.
Among other districts with a high number of duplicate/fake voters on the rolls are Gaya, Nawada, Vaishali, Lakhisarai, Begusarai, Muzaffarpur and Madhepura, where the ruling JD(U) and opposition RJD have high stakes.
In the run up to the 2005 Bihar assembly polls, efforts of the then special advisor to election commission KJ Rao had led to weeding out of the names of over 10 lakh fictitious voters.
Continuing the drive to ensure free and fair polls, the state election authorities department this year ran a special software on the data bank of electoral rolls to detect fake entries, ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections.
The election authorities have already started issuing notices to dubious voter's list entries to clean up the rolls.
“We have set a deadline of August 31 to delete fictitious/duplicate names on the electoral rolls. After that, we will run the software again to check any anomalies in the electoral rolls across the state,” a source said.