The Election Commission (EC) issued new guidelines on Sunday to create cleaner electoral rolls without duplication of names for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The new instructions also put the onus on the voter to provide correct and full information to poll officers. If the information given turns out to be false the voter can face up to one year in jail.
Under the new rules, election officers and the online registration system will no longer accept an application from a voter asking to be added on an electoral list until the person specifies whether he or she has voted or been on a voter list elsewhere.
If false information is provided, the election officers can penalise voters.
The EC has also directed that a voter’s name can only be removed from the electoral rolls after informing the concerned voter. The panel had come under heavy criticism in the recent Delhi assembly polls when names of thousands of Delhi residents were removed from electoral rolls without their knowledge. Nearly half of the voters in a colony in east Delhi did not figure on the voters’ list despite all of them having voter identity cards.
“No deletion can be made after publication of final rolls and it can be done only on basis of request for deletion,” the EC said.
New enrollments in voter lists for the coming general polls will start from January 1. Over 760 million people will be eligible to vote in the elections, according to the EC.
Having one name in multiple electoral rolls is a rampant problem in India.
Aap Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal’s name was found in three different electoral rolls triggering a political storm. It was later found that Kejriwal had made valid declaration but the election officers had failed to delete his name from the other electoral rolls.
To curb the problem, the EC has asked electoral roll officers to match the new demographic details of new entrants and photographs using specialised software with the rolls of neighbouring areas.
“For example, for Delhi, de-duplication must be done with data pooled from other regions of the NCR including Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurgoan,” the EC said in its direction on Sunday, adding that similar exercises need to be undertaken in urban and rural areas near big cities.
The online registration system to enroll in a voters’ list has also been simplified. Providing a mobile number has also been made mandatory so that election officers can inform voters’ about their status through SMS.