Names missing from voters' list during BMC Election: EC says citizens to blame

Responding to allegations of large scale chaos and lakhs of names missing from voters' list, Deputy Election Commissioner Avinash Sanas blames the citizens

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K-West residents suffered the same fate
K-West residents suffered the same fate

It's a fiasco that should make the State Election Commission (SEC) hang its head in shame, but it's busy propping up excuses. The SEC has laid the blame for the debacle over voters' lists — over 10 lakh couldn't find their names on polling day — at citizens' doors. It has excoriated citizens for failing to grab five chances over six months to alert them to the mess.

Goldie Behl were among those who couldn’t vote as their names were missing from the list
Filmmaker Goldie Behl were among those who couldn’t vote as their names were missing from the list

Avinash Sanas, deputy commissioner, SEC, believed that the fiasco could have been avoided had voters "woken up" and checked revised voters lists' over the last six months.

Also Read: Oops! Varun Dhawan couldn't cast his vote in BMC Election! Here's why...

Actor Paresh Rawal, his wife Swaroop Sampat
Actor Paresh Rawal, his wife Swaroop Sampat

Lists revised each year
He explained that the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Maharashtra revises voters' lists every year. The first opportunity for citizens to spot deletions from records would have been the draft list — published on September 16, 2016, and in public view till October 15 — available on the Maharashtra CEO's website. "The next list of eligible voters was published by them (Maharashtra CEO) on January 5, which was the second chance," said Sanas.

SEC Deputy Commissioner Avinash Sanas’s defence cut no ice with citizens
SEC Deputy Commissioner Avinash Sanas’s defence cut no ice with citizens

Then came the draft list of the SEC published on its online and local body portals on January 12. This was followed by the final list published by the SEC on January 21. This entire process takes around 6 months. "Booth lists were published around February 8," said the election officer.

Deepika Ambre and Prathmesh Kowarkar of Shivaji Park returned home dejected on finding their names missing. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Missed chances
Chiding citizens for ignoring the lists, Sanas said, "If people had seen that their names were not on the lists, they could have alerted the authorities and the issue could have been addressed in just a few days. But if you just wake up on polling day, how can we help anyone? The list cannot be changed overnight. In six months, no one realised that these five opportunities had been missed."

He asked citizens to be more alert during the next election.

Read Story: Where's my name? Prominent Mumbaikars can't vote since they are 'missing'

On people's demands to declare election in some wards null and void owing to missing names, Sanas said, "They can file an election petition stating that they were not included in the voters' lists and that only after they vote should the result be announced. The petition can be filed within 15 days of the polling date."

Irresponsible response: NGO
The SEC's defence did not go down well with citizens and welfare organisations. "The Election Commission is clearly at fault. Who else is responsible for deleting a name? The EC officers should give a satisfactory response to why the name of a person who was on the previous voting list was deleted. There is a family of four in my ward, all of whose names were removed in spite of them having valid voter ID cards and having voted in the past. What have booth-level officers (BLO) been doing if they haven't made sure that all eligible voters in their wards have their names on the voting lists?" asked Nikhil Desai, coordinator of NGO AGNI.

Foul Play

Shalini Thackeray
MNS general secretary
'I don't believe that this was a simple mistake. Deletions from voters' lists have been done very systematically. The last two lists were released around February 9, at a time when polling was already around the corner and voters would not have had the time to check them. Besides, why would previous voters bother to check if their names are on voting lists. No one assumes your name will be deleted.'

Sanjay Nirupam
Mumbai Congress chief
'Thirty per cent names were missing from electoral lists. Most of these missing people are voters from high-rises, the upper-middle class people. Is this a foul play or a deliberate act of an official who was in the process of revising electoral votes?'

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