ANDHRA PRADESH

EC to list alternative voter identification documents

VISAKHAPATNAM DEC. 14. The Election Commission would be announcing the list of documents for identification of voters as an alternative to photo identity cards during the coming Assembly polls, according to its legal counsel, S.K. Mendiratta.

A member one of the four EC teams touring the State to review the progress of the revision of electoral rolls, Mr. Mendiratta said here on Wednesday that the EC had not decided on the type of documents required for establishing voter identity and that it would be consulting the State Government on this, besides taking suggestions of political parties.

The team, with the EC Under Secretary, N.N. Utolia as the second member, interacted with political parties and the media at the Collectorate. The District Collector, Sunil Sharma, was present.

Given that complete coverage under the drive to issue photo identity cards had not been accomplished, the EC, according him, in the normal course of conduct of elections specified "alternative documents'' for establishing the identity.

Pointing out that such documents differed from State to State, Mr. Mendiratta said while in one by-election certificates issued by village officers had been approved for identifying voters, in Delhi, ration cards were listed among the documents prescribed by the EC.

He wanted the political parties to view the exercise at evolving alternative documents for voter identification as a positive approach to ensure that the voting rights of people were protected.

According to him, revision of electoral rolls was on in the normal course to include the names of people who had attained 18 years of age even before the Legislative Assembly was dissolved and that the exercise had assumed significance in the light of the elections now.

"The aim is to delete the names of ineligible voters and include the eligible ones in the list. We want to make the electoral rolls as accurate as humanly possible. The names, as far as possible, should reflect the correct gound reality and form the basis for clean elections,'' he explained.

Inviting the help of political parties in this context, Mr. Mendiratta said that people had not evinced much interest in electoral rolls revision over the past two or three years but the announcement of elections in the State had now generated interest among them. Most applications were for inclusion of names, and very few for deletion, he added.

Replying to a question, he said that examining the abnormal rise in voter population in Andhra Pradesh was one of the specific tasks of the EC teams visiting the State. Sixty-five per cent was the normal benchmark for the proportion of voters to the population.

One of the probable reasons for the high rise of voters in the State, he felt, was that names of electors who had become ineligible on shifting to new places or on death had not been effectively deleted from the rolls.

The effort was towards finalising the rolls by January 20, he disclosed.

Representations made by the local units of Congress, TDP, BJP, CPI and CPI(M) mainly related to weeding out bogus voters, not giving any scope for irregularities in the submission of bulk applications by political parties and NGOs for inclusion of names in the electoral rolls, proper verification of new voters and ensuring that the names of eligible were not deleted from the list.

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