KOCHI: Anoop (name changed), a voter in Ettumanoor assembly constituency in Kottayam district, came to know that his name was included in the voters’ lists of two polling booths only when he arrived to exercise his franchise at one of them as per the voter slip in his possession on Tuesday morning. To his surprise, no guideline issued by the Election Commission to prevent double voting because of multiple entries in the electoral rolls was followed by the officers at the booth even as he cast his vote.
In another instance, the officials could not detect that the name of George C V (name changed), a voter in Kalamassery assembly constituency in Ernakulam, was also in the electoral rolls of Thrikkakara constituency, when he arrived to cast his vote at Kalamassery.Though the Election Commission had issued a slew of directives to prevent double voting, several instances where these were implemented in letter and spirit have come to light.
“When I arrived at the booth, the LDF booth agent cited that my name was included in the ASD (Absentee, Shifted and Dead) list and, hence, the procedures prescribed by the Election Commission should be adhered to. But the presiding officer let me cast the vote. They did not take my photograph or insisted on submitting the affidavit as mandated by the EC,” Anoop said.
However, there were also instances when the rules were followed. For instance, a 55-year-old woman, a government official who hails from Wayanad and working in Kochi, had to submit an affidavit and wait for about a few minutes to get the ink dried before she was allowed to leave the booth at Thrikkakara.
The Election Commission had prepared a separate list of ASD voters following the complaints of multiple entries of names in the electoral rolls. As per the directives of EC, the polling officials should take photographs of all ASD voters identified in the polling booths and also obtain a self- declaration from all absentee and shifted voters as under Section 31 of Representation of People Act, 1951. The signatures and thumb impressions of all absentee and shifted voters should also be obtained. The officials should permit the absentee and shifted voters to leave the polling booths only after the indelible ink had dried.
In Ernakulam district, 3,686 ASD voters cast their votes until 3pm. Of them, the highest number (535) was recorded in Tripunithura while the lowest was in Kothamangalam (39).D Balamurali, Additional Chief Electoral Officer, said a list of ASD voters was prepared to prevent double voting. “Stringent steps were taken to prevent it. A separate data on this was compiled by the officials,” he said.