Lucknow municipal polls: Malfunctioning EVMs, missing voter names
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Voting for the second phase of urban body polls in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday was marked by complaints of malfunctioning Electronic Voter Machines (EVM) and missing names in voter lists across the State, especially in Lucknow.Officials, while admitting to lapses, however, said the turnout in the 25 districts that went to poll had increased from 43% in 2012 to 48.65% this time.Voting was held in six municipal corporations, including Varanasi and Allahabad, which were among the 189 local bodies that went to the polls in the second phase. While voting in the Allahabad, Varanasi and Aligarh municipal corporations increased significantly, the turnout fell slightly in Lucknow from 34.3% to 34.2%.It was also in Lucknow that numerous cases of missing names from voter lists and EVM malfunctions were reported. In some wards, locals alleged that entire localities and families had their names struck off the list or shifted to other wards or booths without any notice.Sayyad Ashraf Warsi, who runs a food store in Qaiserbagh, was, left puzzled after he could not find his name on the list despite a carrying an election card, and having voted in the Assembly elections from the same booth in Tikrahouse.“I don’t know what happened today. The officials at the booth went through the entire list but I could not find my name,” said Mr. Warsi.Not just ordinary citizens, even politicians and well-known personalities had to suffer a similar fate. Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kalraj Mishra and U.P. Cabinet Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi found their names missing, too, while Dauji Gupta, former three-time Mayor of Lucknow, also missed out along with his family members, at the Naka Hindola ward.Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav raised the issue in a tweet.“Media reports that a lot of voters names are missing from the voting list of today’s election. This type of digital India cannot take us forward,” he said.State Election Commissioner S. K. Agarwal admitted their were lapses that led to some names missing from the voter lists, mainly due to negligence of booth level officers (BLO) who had failed to update voter slips after the delimitation of wards. “In such a large State, some names are bound to be missing. No voter list can be perfect. Yes, there was laxity in making voter lists, especially in Lucknow. Action will be taken against such BLOs,” Mr. Agarwal said.The official, however, also blamed voters for duplication in rural and urban area voter lists. “Some people live in both cities and villages. Those who had already voted in the Panchayat elections had their names struck off this time,” said Mr. Agarwal.Mr. Agarwal said voting was largely peaceful, barring minor scuffles in Aligarh. Persons trying to vote with fake Aadhaar cards were arrested in Varanasi and Badohi.Mr. Agarwal said that technical flaws and malfunctioning in EVMs were a part of the democratic process, adding that the election was not disrupted despite them. “The [malfunctioning] EVMs were replaced within 20-30 minutes,” he said.