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Deceased voters on rolls, corruption: Hurdles for EC as poll season approaches

A senior Greater Hyderabad Municipal official on Thursday said that more than 20,000 people from the region who are included in the electoral rolls have been deceased for years. Party leaders and activists have said that are worries that these names will be misused during this poll seasons. “Within nine months, I lost my mother, […]

A senior Greater Hyderabad Municipal official on Thursday said that more than 20,000 people from the region who are included in the electoral rolls have been deceased for years.

Party leaders and activists have said that are worries that these names will be misused during this poll seasons. “Within nine months, I lost my mother, brother and wife to Covid-19. When election officers visited our house, my son had informed them about the deaths and requested them to remove their names,” a resident of the Greater Hyderabad region said. “They are removing names of people who are alive and including the dead. We did our part by informing election officers. It is their duty to remove them from the list.”

“We have brought the issue to the notice of the Election Commission, but they started the deletion process in only a few cases,” said Mohammed Feroz Khan, a Congress leader. He said that while there are 2,704 dead voters in the rolls since 1995, election officers gave a written reply saying they started the deletion process and found 470 alive.

“As per the commission, 698 cases are not traceable. Why did they not remove these cases?” asked Khan and added that between 2015 and 2023, 7,767 people, who are dead as per the GHMC registry in the Nampally constituency, are still on the voter list. “Of these cases, they only removed 1,869,” he added.

“The discrepancies we pointed out are in lakhs. The deletions are not even 10% of these. How can we have fair elections if these are ignored?” asked Ravi Kumar Yadav, a BJP leader, adding that he gave several complaints on issues in electoral rolls but many remain unaddressed.

While officials said that they could only delete names if the family submitted Form 7, parties and activists are questioning why these deaths did not come to light during the door-to-door survey. Sources in the Election Commission of India (ECI) also point out that a wrongful deletion of a voter’s name from electoral rolls is a criminal offence, because of which no one wants to get it wrong.

Meanwhile, in a major reshuffle ahead of the elections the EC on Wednesday shunted out four Telangana district collectors, three other IAS officers heading crucial departments, three commissioners of police and 10 police superintendents. Apart from Telangana, the EC also shifted out several top police and administrative officers in the four other poll-bound states due to “unsatisfactory” work.

The officers were told to step down immediately and hand over charge to junior officers. The EC wrote to chief secretary Shanti Kumari, asking her not to assign any duties to them till the election process was over. The EC said during their recent visit to Hyderabad, it reviewed the functioning of all the collectors, commissioners and SPs. It found that 17 of them failed to curb cash flow, maintain purity of electoral rolls and ensure inducement-free elections.

A commission official said, “A review of the election preparedness revealed there was no enforcement in these cities and districts. This is exemplary action.” It also asked the chief secretary to send a panel of names of three IAS and IPS officers for each of the posts that fall vacant. The names must be sent by 12 October. The commission will choose one name from the panels and appoint new heads.

Deceased voters in the rolls since 1995: 2,704
Voters found alive in deletion process: 470
Number of cases untraceable: 698
Deceased voters between 2015-23: 7,767 people
Cases deleted between 2015-23: 1,869
Total voters deceased in five constituencies: 7,121
Cases deleted in five constituencies: 2,780

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