EC To Encourage Migrant Voting, Simplify Procedure; Set Up 26 PSs

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*after Ssr, Voters To Cross 85 Lakh Mark In J&k

JAMMU, Oct 31: With a view to give boost to voting percentage among Kashmiri Pandit migrants, which has been abysmally low in the previous elections, the Election Commission will be initiating several steps to ensure good turnout while efforts are on to enroll more new voters in fresh Special Summary Revision of electoral rolls ordered by the Commission. Final rolls will be published on January 5, 2024.

Officials said 26 Polling Stations will be set up for Kashmiri migrants including 21 in Jammu, four in New Delhi and one in Udhampur. Besides, the Kashmiri Pandits who are still living in their houses in the Valley will be able to exercise their right to franchise in normal Polling Stations like other people of Kashmir, local news gathering agencies quoting official sources.

“The Kashmiri Pandits living outside will be able to use the option of postal ballots and M Form,” they said, adding using M Form the KPs can physically cast their vote in the Polling Stations set up for them. The process for casting of votes by the Kashmiri Pandits has been simplified, they asserted.

For the purpose, Office of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) PK Pole has been making preparations.

West Pakistan refugees, Gorkhas, Valmikis etc who have been granted domicile rights following abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019 will be eligible to cast votes for Assembly elections whenever they are held as they were entitled to vote for Parliamentary polls earlier also. They had exercised voting rights in local elections for the first time in the District Development Council (DDC) polls in November-December 2020.

“There is 1.42 crore projected population of Jammu and Kashmir taking into account the figures of 2011 census and average annual growth rate.

Tentatively, 63-65 percent of the total population comprise the electorates. Presently, there are 85 lakh voters in Jammu and Kashmir and following Special Summary Revision, the electors are expected to go up,” the officials said but added that not much significant increase is expected as two Summary Revisions have been held during last two years and this is the third.

Four cutoff dates have been fixed for registration of new voters including January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1.

Besides, the people can get names corrected, added or deleted during the Special Summary Revision, they said.

After completion of entire exercise, final list of the voters will be published on January 5, 2024.

For the ongoing Special Summary Revision (SSR) of Photo Electoral Rolls ordered by the Election Commission of India, the CEO office has deployed 11,500 Booth Level Officers (BLOs) and 3500 Supervisors besides Election Returning Officers (EROs), AROs etc.

On identification of hyper sensitive and sensitive polling stations for Lok Sabha elections in view of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir especially the Valley, the officials said the vulnerability and critical assessment of polling stations will be undertaken.

Lok Sabha elections are scheduled to be held in April-May next year. There are five Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, there has been no scheduled for Assembly elections so far.

Municipal and Panchayat elections were due in October-December this year but they have been deferred due to grant of reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), conduct of delimitation of Wards etc.