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Photo electoral rolls in two Assembly segments

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, FEB. 10. The State Election Department has approached the Election Commission (EC) for preparing "photo electoral rolls" (rolls with photographs) in two assembly constituencies on an experimental basis.

After studying the experience there, the methodology will be worked out for adoption throughout the State. "The proposal is now under the consideration of the EC," Naresh Gupta, Chief Electoral Officer, said today.

After a meeting with representatives of recognised national and State political parties, Mr. Gupta told presspersons: "We held discussions with the Kerala Election department, which had prepared such rolls. Some parties also made a suggestion for the photo electoral rolls at the meeting."

Asked about the status of issuing electors' photo identity cards (EPIC), Mr. Gupta said 72 per cent of the voters had been covered. "We may take up the work of issuing the cards to the remaining electors most probably in September."

Intensive revision

All 14 Assembly constituencies in Chennai district, five each in Coimbatore and Madurai, four each in Salem and Tiruchi and two each in Tirunelveli, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts would be covered under intensive revision of electoral rolls.

To a question whether his department would recommend to the EC intensive revision in the remaining 196 Assembly constituencies, Mr Gupta said: "It may be too late at this juncture to make such a suggestion. Moreover, it is a major policy decision to be taken by the Election Commission. Possibly, the EC would have considered this question when it decided that the intensive revision be held in 38 constituencies."

Answering questions on the notices issued to electoral registration officers following complaints of large-scale omissions of voters' names during the Lok Sabha elections last year, he said, "We have received explanations from some EROs which will be forwarded to the Election Commission." The report submitted by the Kerala Chief Electoral Officer, P.J. Thomas, who enquired into the complaints, recommended guidelines for revision of electoral rolls. The guidelines were being conveyed to officials.

As for the detection of duplicate entries of voters' names, he said software was being devised on the lines of the one used in Maharashtra.

On involving non-governmental organisations, unemployed youth and students, Mr. Gupta said the EC was of the view that responsibility could not be fixed on these groups, unlike as in the case of Government staff, in the event of a failure.

Responding to the parties' suggestion, the CEO said the price of the compact disc containing electoral rolls might be brought down. "The existing rates for CDs comprising rolls of one Assembly seat and one Lok Sabha constituency are Rs. 500 and Rs.3,000." The remuneration for enumerators would be increased.

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