EC refutes reports of 3 lakh fake voters in Varanasi

The Election Commission has refuted reports that it has discovered three lakh bogus voters in Varanasi, the constituency represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The EC has clarified that it is not a case of bogus voters but that of the Varanasi voters list having 6.47 lakh names that are also repeated elsewhere across Uttar Pradesh.

The commission said it has found 9.8 million names repeated in the 2014 electoral roles at least once across the state, against 9.1 million names repeated in 2013 – roughly 7 per cent of the state's total electorate.

On Tuesday,  a Hindi newspaper, Navbharat Times reported that 3,11,057 fake voters had been discovered in Varanasi, where Narendra Modi had won by a margin of 3,71,784 votes. This report was subsequently picked up by other media, including India Today group's Hindi television news channel Aaj Tak.

Reports quoted RK Pandey, additional chief electoral officer in the UP state election commission, as saying that the reporter has either failed to understand the fact or he might have taken it in a wrong perspective. ''The reporter has understood that these are repeated voters, but they are actually just repeated names.''

A post on the Aam Aadmi Party's Facebook page played up a story from the Varanasi Jagran, which too gave a confusing report about the duplicate names of voters that the commission had found.

In Varanasi, the commission said, it has found 6.47 lakh names, all of which are repeated at least once across the state.

Pandey, however, said these names need not necessarily be all fake entries in the rolls. They could be people with similar names.

''For instance, a 'Rajesh, son of Ramesh', might be found several times in UP,'' he said. ''We are in the process of checking whether these people are the same or different.''

The EC, meanwhile, is undertaking an annual revision and verification of its rolls, which includes running the list through a software to show duplicate names that need to be physically verified.

The EC will submit a complete report on the process by 5 January.

According to the EC, of the 9.1 million names that were found to have been repeated in the electoral rolls last year, 1.96 million names were deleted after verification, leaving 7.14 million repeated names in the list.

This, according to the EC, may include names of those who had either moved out or died. So far, 3.5 million names have been deleted from the list, says the EC.

At the same time, 2.6 million names have been added to the list this year, Pandey said, adding that UP registered 12.5 million new voters between October 2013 and May 2014.

He, however, said, the existing mechanism is insufficient to verify whether the deleted names repeat themselves and cast their votes in intervening elections.