The Election Commission of India (ECI) has started a 20-day drive to correct the electoral rolls and rationalise polling booths across Gujarat where assembly polls are due in 2017.
“The drive began across 46,000 polling booths across the state Monday and will continue till April 30. During this period booth-level officers will take house-to-house visits and correct the electoral rolls. The errors may be in the electors’ name, sex, gender, relationship, EPIC number, assembly constituency, address, photograph, etc,” said BB Swain, Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat.
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The drive undertaken as part of the National Electoral Roll Purification programme where about 70,000-odd errors that might have crept in to the electoral rolls are expected to be corrected. “During this drive, repeated and multiple entries, names of deceased voters, those who have shifted residences will also be removed from the electoral rolls,” Swain added.
The ECI will observe April 17 as a campaign day on which forms for enrollment in the voters list (Form 6), deletion (Form 7) and correction (Form 8) will also be accepted at the respective polling stations from 10 am to 2 pm. On Monday, ECI officials held a meeting with all the political parties in the state and informed them about this drive. Political parties were also requested to appoint as many booth-level agents as possible who can provide useful inputs to booth-level officers during the drive.
When asked if the corrections in electoral rolls are being undertaken after a controversy erupted with regard to missing voters during the local body polls held under the supervision of the State Election Commission in 2015, the ECI official said, “I cannot comment anything on the local body elections. For the ECI, the drive we are undertaking is part of a continuous process, which we will again hold before the assembly elections in 2017,” he added.
Apart from the changes in electoral rolls, ECI plans to rationalise polling stations where physical verification of existing and probable polling stations locations will be done. The verification will ensure if voters have to cross rivers, canals or ravines to reach the polling booth, if the voters are required to cover more than two kilometres, if the polling booth is on the first floor or above, if the polling station is located in a police station, hospital, dharmshala or religious structure or if the office of any political party is located within 200 metres of the polling booth.
The rationalisation process may also include converting auxiliary polling stations into main polling stations, which may require re-distribution of voters between them. All the District Election Officers will convene meetings of political parties before preparing a proposal for rationalisation of polling stations.