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Dead voter count: 3.5 lakh

Calcutta, Jan. 28: The names of over 3.5 lakh dead people have been struck off the state's voters' list, which is in for a major chop-and-change.

'Going by reports received from all the districts so far, about 3.5 lakh voters have been identified as dead and the process of removing their names from the voters' list has been initiated,' state chief electoral officer (CEO) Debashish Sen said today.

According to state government officials, the number of names on the chopping board this year is unprecedented.

'The changes will be even larger than we had perceived earlier. We have received around three lakh Form 7 applications seeking removal of names from electoral rolls across Bengal. These include dead voters and those who have shifted elsewhere in addition to false names of non-existent people. Since the dead voter count alone exceeds the total number of Form 7 applications, deletions on the whole will be far greater,' said an employee in the CEO's office.

Poll officers are also putting together the names of those who have migrated from the state or have moved out of the addresses mentioned in the voters list.

The CEO's office will finalise the total number of inclusions and deletions by January 30. The revised voters' list will be published on February 15.

'The names of voters relocating to other areas will be fairly large, definitely higher than the number of dead voters identified so far. Migration takes place not only in urban areas, but in substantial numbers in rural villages as well. In most such cases, those leaving do not bother to inform the authorities,' said an official.

Sen said his office had not expected so many changes in the rolls. 'It's true that many deletions didn't happen via applications on Form 7. The extra efforts made by the EC (Election Commission) this time are bearing fruit.'

The poll panel has allowed 44 days for receiving applications during roll revision in the state. 'After the last deadline expired on November 19, the EC allowed a suo motu extension till December 3, giving everyone a chance to apply, since this is election year,' said an official.

Officers hailed the commission's show of vigilance this time. 'This is the first time that the EC has sent 19 observers ' one for each district ' to oversee roll revision. Also, the roll revision started in September this time, the earliest we've seen so far,' said Sen.

According to the officials, about 3.03 lakh Form 6 applications for inclusion of names in the rolls were received by December 3.

'When the EC decided to send observers at the last moment during scrutiny of applications to check allegations of ghost voters, thousands of cases were unearthed wherever the EC-appointed observers went in January to monitor the roll revision process,' said an official.

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