The Election Commission (EC) plans to start a drive to delete the names of 14.29 lakh voters in Mumbai and Thane district, who have shifted, died or don’t live in the constituency from the voters’ list. The Thane and city civic bodies will face elections in 2017.
With the state and Lok Sabha elections, as per the law, the EC could not delete the names of the voters in the three categories last year. This has resulted in accumulation of 31.32 lakh names in the state, including 1.06 lakh in the island city, 6.04 lakh in Mumbai suburbs and 7.19 lakh in Thane district.
“The block-level officers visited the houses of voters before the Lok Sabha election. The notices for deletion were served to each person, whose name will now be deleted. We will conduct a drive throughout the year to ensure the rolls are cleaned up before the election,” said Shekhar Channe, collector, Mumbai suburbs.
“We use the electoral roll provided by the Election Commission. They undertake timely drives to clean up the roll. We have directed the collectors to act as per the directives of the EC. If the number of absent/shifted/ died voters is high, we will bring it to the notice of chief electoral officer,” said JS Saharia, state election commission, which conducts civic elections.
The EC had conducted a similar drive in 2013, ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2014. The EC had then deleted 50.32 lakh voters who had shifted or dead. The deletion had created an uproar in three major cities — Mumbai, Thane and Pune — as names of the thousands of voters went missing from the rolls.
Some of them had then moved the Bombay high court against the EC, which was directed to follow the due process before the Assembly elections. The EC had sent personal letters to 26 voters whose names were deleted in Mumbai, Thane and Pune after the court order. More than 80% of the letters returned to the collector offices, as the recipients were found absent at their address, thus proving the EC’s claim that the deletions were correct. “In the next three years, most civic bodies in the state will face elections. Our routine drive in December saw 8.91 lakh deletions,” said an official.
The inflated electoral rolls affect the percentage of voting, as was witnessed in the 2012 BMC elections in the city. It was after BJP leader Ram Naik and others complaint to the EC, the cleaning up of the electoral rolls was taken up after the BMC elections.