CEO Anticipates 25 Lakh Additions In Voters In Jammu Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar on Wednesday said around 25 lakh new voters are expected to be enrolled in Jammu and Kashmir.

He was addressing a press conference at Nirvachan Bhawan Jammu and announced the launch and schedule of Special Summary Revision in Jammu & Kashmir.

It was told that in continuation to its earlier notification dated June 29, 2022, the Election Commission of India has further notified the schedule of Special Summary Revision with reference to October 1, 2022 as the qualifying date in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

According the schedule, Integrated Draft Electoral Roll would be published by all Electoral Registration Officers on September 15, 2022. Period between September 15 and October 25 has been earmarked for filing claims and objections and all disposals in this regard would be completed by November 10. Checking of health parameters and obtaining Commission’s permission for final publication, updating database and printing of supplements is to be done by November 19, 2022. The Final Electoral Roll would be published on November 25.

Those present during the press conference also included Additional Secretary, Sandish Kumar Gupta; State Nodal Officer, SVEEP, Akhtar Hussain Qazi and Joint Director Information Jammu, Sapna Kotwal.

The Chief Electoral Officer reiterated that any person attaining the age of 18 years on or before October 1, 2022 and is otherwise qualified to be enrolled as an elector in the Electoral Roll, can apply for his registration during this special summary revision.

After the abrogation of Article 370, many people who were not enlisted as voters in the erstwhile state of J&K are now eligible to vote and in addition anyone who is living ordinarily can also avail the opportunity to get enlisted as a voter in J&K in accordance with the provisions of representation of the Peoples Act,” Kumar told reporters here.

He said the projected population of J&K who are 18 plus are around 98 lakhs, while the number of enlisted voters are 76 lakh according to the last voter list.

“We are expecting an addition of 20 to 25 lakh new voters in the final list,” Kumar said, adding the Booth Level Officers, Electoral Registration Officers, Assistant Electoral Registration officers and District Election Officers have been sensitized to ensure that the final list will be “error free” and will also cover all the eligible voters.

Kumar said there is no need for a person to have a domicile certificate of J&K to become a voter. “An employee, a student, a labourer or anyone from outside who is living ordinarily in J&K, can enlist his or her name in the voting list. The documents will be scrutinized by the government officials concerned who will take a decision after being satisfied about the claim.”

He said like in the past, many residents of J&K who are working in armed forces and paramilitary forces and are posted outside the Union Territory have an option to get themselves registered as service voters and can avail the facility of postal ballot to register their choice at the time of the elections.

“Likewise those from different parts of the country who are posted here have the option that if they are posted in a peace station they can enlist themselves as voters. Jammu is a peace station and anyone from outside posted in armed forces in the city can avail the option to enlist as a voter,” he said.

Hirdesh Kumar said, ‘Pre-revision activities as well as post delimitation follow up work is going on in the UT, wherein the existing electoral roll is being mapped into the newly delimited Assembly Constituencies as per the Delimitation Commission’s final order made applicable by the Union Law Ministry with effect from May 20, 2022. As part of the pre-revision activities, the process of rationalisation/ re-arrangement of polling stations, removal of discrepancies of demographically similar entries/ similar photo entries, duplicate EPICS, preparation of supplements and integrated draft roll is also going on at present’.

The Integrated Draft Roll, with reference to October 1, 2022 as the qualifying date, would be published by all EROs of the UT on September 15, 2022, marking the formal beginning of the revision activities.

The Commission has extended the period for filing of claims and objections from 30 days to 40 days: from September 15, 2022 to October 25, 2022. During this period Special camps would also be organised by CEO Jammu and Kashmir on weekends for which the date will be publicised separately.

Objections could be filled through multiple platforms- offline by submitting a hard copy in prescribed format before ERO/ AERO or concerned BLO and online objections and claims could be filled by logging into https://www.nvsp.in portal or by downloading Voter Helpline App (VHA).

The final electoral roll after due disposal of all claims and objections filed within the stipulated time period would be published on November 25, 2022.

FORMS

The Commission has made the registration forms more user friendly and simpler. The forms have come into force since August 1, 2022. Form 6 which was earlier being used for registration of new electors and for shifting from one constituency to another constituency, shall be exclusively used for registration of new electors only.

There is no change in Form 6A. Form 7 which is used for objection to proposed inclusion/ deletion of a name in existing electoral roll shall remain to be for the same purpose with a slight modification that a provision for attaching a death certificate has also been incorporated.

Form 8 has under gone a major change and can be now used for multiple purposes like, correction of any particulars, shifting of residence (within or outside constituency), replacement of EPIC and marking of persons with disability. Form 8A, which was earlier used for shifting within constituency has been abolished now, as the same provision is made in the new Form 8.

In addition to these a new Form 6B has been introduced for capturing Aadhaar number of the existing electors. All Forms (wherever required) have been suitably modified to capture Aadhaar number from the new electors.

EPIC-AADHAAR LINKING

Besides provisions of Aadhar linking, no application for inclusion of name in electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar Number. It has been emphasised that while handling Aadhaar number of the applicants, the provision under Section 37 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 must be adhered to. Under no circumstances should it go public. If the electors’ information is required to be put for public display, the Aadhaar details must be removed or masked. A Time bound drive is being started for collection of Aadhaar number of the existing electors by or before April 1, 2023.

Furnishing of Aadhaar number is purely voluntary. Objective of the programme is to establish the identity of electors and authentication of entries in Electoral Roll, the CEO maintained.

FIELD VERIFICATIONS AND SUPER CHECKING FOR HEALTHY ELECTORAL ROLL

For the purpose of improving the health of the electoral roll, the Election Commission has emphasised the need for field verification by the Booth Level Officers. There is a mechanism for supervision and checking for enforcing strict accountability of the work performed by different levels of electoral machinery, such as Supervisors, EROs and AEROs by field verification. Similarly, DEOs, Roll Observers and CEOs also check the work done by EROS before the final decision on claims and objections is taken.

Besides, Officers from ECI and offices of CEOs are also deployed to further random checks and to supervise. Respective Divisional Commissioner have been designated Roll Observers in their respective divisions for the purpose of supervision the Electoral Roll work.

PARTICIPATIVE PROCESS- INVOLVING BLAs

‘With a view to ensure more involvement of political parties, the Commission has allowed Booth Level Agents (BLAs) of recognised political parties to file applications in bulk, subject to the condition that a BLA shall not submit more than 10 Forms to BLO at one time/in one day. If a BLA files more than 30 Applications/Forms during the entire period of filing claims and objections, then cross verification must be done by ERO/AERO themselves. Further, the BLA will also submit a list of application forms with the declaration that he has personally verified the particulars of the application forms and is satisfied that they are correct.’

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