Despite a heavy turnout, the polling percentage in Delhi seldom reaches those magical 70 and 80 per cent levels. And if the Election Commission data is any indicator, it could have much to do with the number of unaccounted votes in the system.
As per a recent count, over 14 lakh voters could not be located during a survey and now notices have been issued to them to prove their existence and that they are the rightful resident of the premises they have marked as their addresses.
These 14 lakh voters are now in the ‘doubtful category’ and though their names still exist on the rolls -- which as per the final publication of electoral rolls on January 15, 2013, pegged the total number of voters at around 122,60,341 -- many of them are likely to be struck off if they fail to present themselves in person before the department officials as per the notices.
Politicians cutting across party lines believe it would be difficult for the Election Commission to delete many of these names as they are in the system by design. At the same time, urgent remedy is required as the number of such votes is huge – an average of about 20,000 per Assembly segment.
Delhi Nationalist Congress Party Election Committee chairman Ramvir Singh Bidhuri insists the problem of such “bogus votes’’ is most profound in the peripheral constituencies of the city.
“Many of the voters here actually reside in the neighbouring areas of Faridabad, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad. There are politicians who have property businesses in these adjoining townships. They sell plots on lease basis or rent out premises. They get the votes of their clients or tenants made in Delhi and then get them here to vote for them on voting day.’’Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Naresh Kumar said in some cases the politicians also get fake voter identity cards made in their constituencies. “These cards, with superimposed picture of the bogus voters, are made against the names of those who have moved out of the area. Since there is no hologram on the cards, they are easy to duplicate,’’ pointed out Dr. Kumar.
Senior Congress legislator Mukesh Sharma concurred that the problem of bogus votes is huge. “You can get any identity proof made for Rs.500 and there are about 12-14 types of such proofs which are valid for casting a vote.’’
In the Capital , he said, there are also a large number of voters from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan who cast their votes while also voting in their native places. “Dual vote is a crime under the Representation of People’s Act. There are 42,000 such votes in Uttam Nagar alone which need to be cut.’’ Mr. Sharma, who is also Parliamentary Secretary to Chief Minister, said the Election Commission should have a software to detect if a person with a given name and father’s name has voted in two places. “The photographs of such persons should be tallied to see if they are the same. Also using Aadhar unique identity numbers for doing away with such bogus voting can prove effective.’’
Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel also believes that such bogus votes need to be extricated from the system. On taking over charge recently, he exhorted all his party MLAs to find out how many such votes exist in their constituencies and get them removed. Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Kumar Dev said while the political parties do keep bringing up the issue of bogus votes before his office, “such votes are being removed in a systematic manner.’’ Mr. Dev said to keep the system of deletion of votes transparent, the data on the doubtful category names is being regularly shared with the political parties.
He said the removal of non-existent voters from the electoral rolls would also have a radical impact on the turnout figures.
“When non-existent voters are listed, the turnout actually does not give a fair representation of the polling percentage; it would go up if the names of non-existent voters are deleted.’’