Despite the concern that multiple entries in the electoral rolls may pave way for bogus voting, the issue did not cast a shadow over Tuesday’s Assembly polls.
Barring stray incidents, polling was relatively free when considering the sheer magnitude of the controversy that rocked the election scene. Moreover, the tight vigil maintained by polling officials and additional preventive measures introduced by the Election Commission appeared to have paid off.
“Our officials had put in a lot of hard work and came out with a mechanism to prevent bogus voting, which was approved by the High Court and the Election Commission. It paid dividends,” Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena said. “We have ensured that no bogus voting occurred,” he said.
However, a few complaints did make news. United Democratic Front candidate in Taliparamba V.P. Abdul Rashid demanded a repoll in the segment, accusing the Communist Party of India (Marxist) of ‘capturing’ booths.
Allegations of bogus voting were reported from Koothuparamba, Mannarkkad, Kalamassery, and Kattakada. At Mananthavady, Vypeen, and Parassala, some voters reportedly found that their votes had already been cast beforehand in the form of postal votes. Reportedly, these voters had never applied for postal ballots.
In the run-up to the elections, it was Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala who flagged the issue, claiming that over four lakh ‘fake’ voters were present on the rolls. Both the UDF and the Bharatiya Janata Party had lodged complaints with the commission. On March 30, the commission informed the Kerala High Court that it could detect only 38,586 demographically similar entries in the rolls.
Subsequently, acting on a court directive, the ECI had introduced measures such as capturing the fingerprint and photographs of voters on the ‘absent, shifted dead/duplicate’ (ASD) list supplied to the presiding officers to prevent multiple voting and impersonation.
Voters on this list were also required to give a declaration to polling officials. Moreover, election officials had warned the public that attempts to cast multiple votes or impersonate another voter would attract stern action.