Revised J&K poll rolls may expand 33% with 25 lakh new voters over 3 years: CEO | India News –

JAMMU: J&K’s electorate could swell by 20 to 25 lakh new voters after the ongoing special summary revision of electoral rolls, accounting for not just those who have turned 18 since the last update in 2019 but also the potential addition of people from other states living in the Union Territory and now eligible to vote, chief electoral officer Hirdesh Kumar said on Wednesday.
“We are expecting massive changes in the rolls given the fact that a special summary revision is taking place for the first time since January 1, 2019,” the CEO told reporters at Jammu’s Nirvachan Bhawan, triggering a howl of protest from mainstream regional parties that fear BJP would “import” voters to win elections.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the then undivided state of J&K had 78.4 lakh registered voters. Excluding what is now the UT of Ladakh, the number would have been 76.7 lakh. An addition of 20 to 25 lakh voters would hence constitute an increase by about 26 to 33% over a three-year period. Between 2014 and 2019, the increase in voters had been about 6.5 lakh.
Census projections peg the population 18 years or older in J&K at about 94 lakh in 2021.
“After the nullification of Article 370, many people who were not enlisted as voters in the erstwhile state of J&K are now eligible to do so. Besides, anyone from any part of the country ordinarily living here can choose to get enlisted as a voter in accordance with the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951,” Kumar said.He clarified that a domicile certificate wasn’t necessary to become a voter as long as the applicant was legally based in J&K for work, business or education. “Their documents will be properly scrutinised by the authorities before a decision is taken to reject or accept the claim,” he said.
The cut-off for age eligibility is October 1.
National Conference vice-president and ex-CM Omar Abdullah questioned if BJP was “so insecure about support from genuine voters of J&K” that it needed to get “temporary voters to win seats”.
“None of these things will help the BJP when the people of J&K are given a chance to exercise their franchise,” he tweeted.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, another ex-CM, termed the roll revision an exercise to “disempower” the local population. “GOI’s decision to defer polls in J&K preceded by egregious gerrymandering tilting the balance in BJP’s favour, and now allowing non locals to vote is obviously to influence election results. Real aim is to continue ruling J&K with an iron fist,” she said.
People’s Conference chief Sajad Gani Lone joined in the diatribe, calling it a “dangerous” and “disastrous” move. “I don’t know what they want to achieve. This is much more than mischief. Democracy is a relic, especially in the context of Kashmir. Please remember 1987. We are yet to come out of that. Don’t replay 1987,” he tweeted, referring to alleged rigging in the assembly polls that year being the trigger for terror in the Valley.
CEO Kumar said the target of completing the special summary revision by November 25 was a challenging one, but it was on track.
According to the Election Commission’s rescheduled timeline, an integrated draft electoral roll will be published on September 15, while the period for filing claims and objections has been fixed between September 15 and October 25. Disposal of claims and objections are to be completed by November 10.
The Delimitation Commission’s report was notified on May 20, following which the number of assembly seats in J&K increased to 90. Kumar said 600 polling stations were added, taking the total to 11,370.