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Poll panel admits voter shortfall

Shillong, Jan. 8: The Election Commission of India today admitted that there is a shortfall of voters in Meghalaya which goes to the polls in February-March.

Meghalaya, which has nearly 30 lakh citizens, has around 14.8 lakh voters till the publication of the final electoral rolls earlier this month.

From 14.8 lakh voters, 7.32 lakh are male while the shortfall of electorate in the electoral rolls is around 1.5 per cent.

“It is a fact that there is a shortfall. But it is a slight shortfall between the ratio of total population to electors in the rolls. The shortfall comes to about 1.5 per cent,” chief election commissioner V.S. Sampath told reporters while wrapping up his visit to the state along with the two election commissioners and other officials.

Earlier, before the summary revision was carried out, the shortfall was on the higher side, Sampath said.

“Through summary revision, around 86,219 voters have been enrolled which translates to a coverage of around six per cent,” he added.

He also said voters could enrol themselves till the last date of filing of nomination papers of the candidates.

The commission has also directed election officials to carefully attend to residual cases of inclusion during continuous update of the rolls, particularly in the 18-19 age-group.

Last year, several pressure groups in the state had strongly agitated against alleged enrolment of “foreigners” in the electoral rolls. They had demanded that the guidelines for voter registration should be made stringent in order to prevent “foreigners” from becoming voters.

Disclosing that there will be 2,485 polling stations across the 60 constituencies in the state, Sampath said the photo coverage in the electoral rolls and distribution of electoral photo identity cards (EPICs) had been completed 100 per cent. He also said that photo identity slips would be distributed to the voters a few days before the polls.

On his discussions with the political parties, Sampath said the common request from them was to provide better security arrangements.

“They have also asked the commission to take deterrent action against muscle and money power. Besides, the parties had requested the commission to shorten the gap between polling and counting dates,” he said.

Assuring that the elections would be transparent, fair and error-free, Sampath said officials had been asked to take special measures to ensure that proper security measures are made.

While stating that election officials had been asked to implement the comprehensive expenditure monitoring instructions to fight the use of money power, Sampath said the expenditure ceiling for candidates had been fixed at Rs 8 lakh. “The commission is satisfied with the review and we will keep election preparedness under day-to-day watch,” he said.

The poll dates are expected to be announced this week after the poll panel officials reach New Delhi.