Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena speaking to a media organisation said that five per cent of government officials had deliberately added fraudulent votes to the voter’s list. He added that these officials will be identified and asked to explain their actions. If their explanations are unsatisfactory, they will be charged under sections 171 (d) and 171 (f) of the IPC, which carries a maximum of one year imprisonment and a fine.
Meena’s decision follows Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala approaching the High Court seeking removal of double votes and demanding punishment for those responsible. Meena has also issued stringent guidelines to thwart bogus voting on the basis of multiple and erroneous entries in the voters' list in the upcoming Kerala assembly election.
According to Meena, “The investigation regarding the double votes started event before Ramesh Chennithala pointed out the matter. It’s been four years. 65 lakh double votes were reduced to 6,000 in December. After the local elections, it has doubled again. The removal of these names has been put on hold as per the directions of the Election Commission as the election has been declared.”
During a preliminary probe conducted by District Collectors, it was discovered that names of several voters were repeated and in some cases multiple names were entered using a single photograph. Instances of different voter information against a single electoral ID number were also detected.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala had filed around five complaints regarding such voter frauds to the poll panel. Chennithala said that the opposition has so far found four lakh bogus voters in the electoral rolls and has provided the details to the Election Commission. He demanded that the names of those falsely included on the list be deleted so that only genuine voters could exercise their franchise.
Chennithala went on to allege that officials affiliated to the ruling CPM were facilitating bogus voting. “Four lakh bogus voters have entered the voters’ list when the difference of votes between the LDF and the UDF in an election is just between one lakh and two lakh,” Chennithala said. He added that such irregularities were rampant in Kasaragod and Kannur districts where polling booths are virtually controlled by the ruling party. Hibi Eden, MP claimed that irregularities in voters list were detected in various constituencies of Ernakulam district, including Ernakulam and Thrikkakara.