Preliminary investigation by District Collectors in Kerala has found the issue of duplicate multiple entries in voters list raised by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala to be factual, Kerala Chief Electoral Office Teeka Ram Meena has said. Chennithala had alleged discrepancies in the voters' list published in Kerala and said that it was a move to sabotage the elections. He had alleged that the names of thousands of people across the state were spotted multiple times in the voters' list. Chennithala filed a complaint with the CEO demanding that the names repeated in the list be removed.
In a press meet on Monday, Meena said that District Collectors had conducted a probe into the 'multiple entries' flagged by the Congress leader and found 590 double entries. However, they said that this was a common occurrence in many states due to a variety of reasons.
"As of now, we were not able to find any political motive. If it is there, I can't say much about it. That doesn't come under my purview," Meena said. He warned that strict action would be taken against officers if foul play was detected in the voter card issuing exercise.
"Applying for a voting ID card is an online process and many people may apply several times by mistake. Sometimes your application will be processed three or four times. Another reason is that many people shift their constituencies and addresses and apply at the new place. So they will apply for voters' ID cards, but their names will still be there in their earlier constituency. It will come as a double entry," Meena said.
The CEO said that such Demographically Similar Entries (DSEs) are normally removed before the election notification and not after it.
"Over 60,000 DSEs were removed before January this year. But after January, over nine lakh applications reached us. As of now, we cannot remove it while the state goes for an election," Meena said adding that the exercise will be done after the polls.
The CEO also said that booth-wise lists were being prepared and these would be handed over to presiding officers. "We have ordered a detailed investigation in all the 140 constituencies," Meena said.
The Chief Electoral Officer said there are 290 third gender voters this time among 2,74,46,039 voters in the state. Out of this number, 1,32,83724 are male voters and 1,41,62,025 are female voters.
"As many as 290 third genders have identified themselves. This is a great achievement. This shows their confidence in the system. They are ready to make use of their electoral right," Meena said.
He said a total of 1,061 nominations were found valid after scrutiny out of the total of 2,180 nominations received on March 19, the last date of submitting them. A total of 957 candidates are currently in the fray on Monday, the last date for withdrawal of nominations, the Commission said.
Meanwhile, an electoral officer has been suspended, pending inquiry, after five voter identity cards in the name of a single person were found generated in the computer system at Uduma in Kasaragod district. Meena said that the Assistant Electoral Registration Officer in Uduma was suspended after the cards in the name of Kumari, a 61-year-old voter, were found in the system.
However, only one of these was issued to her and the other four were canceled, he said.
With PTI Inputs