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Hurry for last-minute voter list update

Patna, March 10: If you have missed the deadline to get your name enrolled in the electoral list, you still stand a chance to register yourself.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has given another opportunity to the people who fulfilled the requisite criteria to become eligible voters.

ECI’s director-general Akshyay Rout said on Monday that the district magistrates-cum-district returning officers have been asked to organise special camps on March 11 to include the names of the people, who couldn’t turn up at these camps held at the polling stations across the state on Sunday.

The booth-level officers would collect Form 6 from the people, who have already attained the age of 18 years or whose names have not been included in the electoral rolls because of some reasons.

“The ECI’s stress is not only on the inclusion of names of eligible electors but also to ensure their participation in the electoral process,” he said. During Sunday’s special camps, around 7.5 lakh applications were received in the state.

“It’s true that the complaints about non-availability of forms and absence of the BLOs were received from a few places on Sunday. To rectify such anomalies, the commission has decided to organise special camps again on March 11,” Rout added.

Expressing concern over low percentage of voters’ turnout in Bihar during the 2009 general elections, Rout said the special emphasis this time was to enthuse the voters to exercise their franchise. During the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Bihar had recorded less than 45 per cent voters’ turnout, which is much below the national percentage.

To motivate the voters, the ECI has issued certain guidelines to the state electoral officer and the district returning officers. Apart from launching voters’ awareness campaign, they would ensure basic minimum facility (BMF) such as covered shed, drinking water and toilets. The problems faced by old electros as well as women electors would also be taken into consideration. In addition, the number of polling stations (booths) has also been increased, he revealed.

The ECI’s DG said the new polling stations have been added to deal with long queue of voters. “Our effort is to ensure that no voter would return from the polling booths without casting their votes,” he said, adding that the commission was making all out efforts to facilitate the voters so that they could cast their votes without any fear or under duress.

Rout said the commission was equally serious about deletion of names of the voters.

“Barring a few exceptions, in no case the names of the voters would be deleted after the publication of the final list of electors in January this year. One can get information about the location of his or her polling booth by sending an SMS,” he added.

The ECI’s DG made it clear that the use of social media networking sites during the forthcoming election was under the scanner of the commission. “The ECI has decided to keep a vigil on the use of social media networking sites by candidates and the political parties during the 2014 elections,” he said, adding that all political advertisements and messages would be screened by the media certification and monitoring committees set up in the districts.

He said the commission was not adverse to the use of social networking sites by the candidates or the political parties.

“But expenses incurred on the advertisement or use of social media networking sites would be included in the expenditure of the candidate or the political party concerned,” he added.

He disclosed that the female voters’ turnout during the 2010 Assembly elections in Bihar had set a new trend.

“There is a need to maintain such a trend during the general elections too. Only then the average polling percentage would increase in the state,” he said.

The commission has also decided to take suo motu cognisance of the media reports.

“The commission would treat such reports as suspected cases of violation of model code of conduct or the ECI’s guidelines and then refer them to the CEO or the returning officers for veritification,” he revealed.

Additional chief electoral officer Arun Kumar Choudhary, secretary of information and public relations department Pratyay Amrit and additional electoral officer (Bihar) R. Laxmanan addressed the workshop on media regulations and paid news.


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