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EC pulls out all stops to avoid repeat of LS voting debacle

During the LS polls, six lakh people from the city had complained that they had not been able to vote because their names weren’t in the voters’ list; the EC has ensured that no names have been deleted in the last 2 months and 90% of voters have their photos in the list so they don’t have to bring ID cards

With the chaos during the Lok Sabha polls, when many in the city could not vote because their names were not in the voters’ list, still fresh in the minds of city voters, the Election Commission is pulling out all stops to prevent a repeat despite nearly 1 lakh new voters being added in the island city itself.

The number of voters in the city has climbed from 23.83 lakh during the Lok Sabha elections to 24,57,583. Not only has the EC not deleted names of any voters in the last two months, it has ensured that 90% of the voters have their photos in the voters’ list so that they don’t have to produce an ID card to be able to vote.

“During the Lok Sabha elections 6 lakh citizens had complained about their names being deleted from the voters’ lists. Following a high court directive, we sent postal reminders to all of them, but four lakh of those were returned to us because the voters did not live at those addresses. Of the remaining 2 lakh, only 990 voters asked for their names to be added, and we have done so,” said city collector Shaila A.

“Our staffers have distributed 64% of voter’s slips door to door and citizens who registered themselves for voting before September 17 will be able to vote if their name is in the voters’ lists,” she added.

The island city has 10 constituencies and 139 candidates in the fray, whose fate will be decided by more than 24 lakh voters —13, 59,598 of whom are male, 11, 57,409 are female and 69 others. The suburbs have 26 constituencies, 380 candidates and 77.43 lakh voters — 42.65 lakh male, 34.78 lakh female and 136 others. There will be 2,571 voting centres in island city and 7,346 in the suburbs.

Vulnerable centres
Sixty two polling centres in the island city are seen as sensitive and 25 of them will see the presence of Central Armed Police Forces and the State Reserve Police Force along with the local police. A few polling booths in Colaba, Byculla and Mumbadevi, among others, will also be under CCTV surveillance with the collector’s office getting a live feed.

The suburbs have 941 critical polling stations, which will have additional observers. At 313, the Goregaon assembly seat has the highest number of critical polling centres in the suburbs.

Flowers for voters
In a first, election officials will greet voters with flowers and interact with them at 18 model polling centres, including some in Mahim, Worli and Wadala. Electoral officers have also approached more than 6,000 housing societies to encourage residents to vote.

Reason for cheer(s)
Following a petition in the high court by the Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association (AHAR) and Wine Merchants’ Association, the collector’s office has changed dry-day timings. On counting day (October 19), restrictions on selling alcohol will be lifted after 6 pm. According to the earlier order, there was supposed to be a complete ban on selling or serving alcohol between October 13 and 15 and on October 19.

Violations
The election commission has registered complaints in 9 cases of code of conduct violations in the island city. Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president Akbaruddin Owaisi was among those booked as he had organised a rally in Byculla without permission. In the suburbs, the EC received 36 complaints of code of conduct violations.

In the island city, Rs 1.06 crore was seized by the police and the EC’s flying squads since the model code of conduct came into force on September 12 and the figure stood at Rs 2.58 crore in the suburbs. The highest cash seizure in the suburbs was of Rs 50 lakh in the vehicle of BJP’s Dahisar candidate Manisha Chaudhary. A police complaint was lodged.

— Inputs by Chetna Yerunkar

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