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Kerala parties mull online voting for expatriates

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Thiruvananthapuram: An all-party meeting here on Thursday discussed the issue of extending online voting facility to the Kerala expatriates.

All parties, save for the Communist Party of India-Marxist, gave the go-ahead for exploring the possibility of extending the online voting facility to Kerala natives settled abroad.

The meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, however, ruled out proxy voting as no political party was supportive of the idea.

CPI-M leaders later said that while they had no objection to the online voting facility for the state’s expatriates, they were apprehensive of the technical aspects and needed to consult experts.

Online voting has been a long-standing demand of the Kerala diaspora, which is around 2.3 million though it is yet to be seen how many would be on the voters’ list.

The final electoral lists are getting ready for elections to the three-tier local bodies in Kerala which will be held in October since newly elected members will have to assume office positively on November 1, 2015.

As and when the political parties decide on the online voting issue, the Kerala government will inform the state election commission, which will take the final call on the matter after considering all the options.

The elections to various local bodies in the state will be held for 21,682 seats, of which half are reserved for women.

(IANS)

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No Right to Vote for Kashmiri Pandits? Voting Difficulties to be discussed with Election Commission of India

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Kashmiri Hindu Pandits
Kashmiri Pandits are not returning to their jobs. Wikimedia

New Delhi, May 11, 2017: A BJP delegation on Thursday apprised the Election Commission of the deletion of names of Kashmiri Pandits from the electoral roles and the cumbersome process they had to go through in exercising their right to vote.

The delegation, under the banner of Jammu and Kashmir Vikas Manch (JKVM), led by Union Ministers Jitendra Singh and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also apprised the Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi about the numerous difficulties faced by the community in exercising their right to vote in Jammu and Kashmir.

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“The M-form is a procedure under which migrant Kashmir Pandits have to repeatedly submit documents to prove that they were genuine displaced people from the Kashmir valley and intend to vote. As a result of this complicated process the number of displaced voters decreased constantly,” a statement said.

The JKVM said that the number has reached a dismal number of few thousand from around 200,000 prior to displacement.

“The decrease was progressive with only 147,000 voters left on voter list in 1996 that went further down to 117,000 in 2002 and even more disappearing from the voter list, down to 71,000 in 2008. It seems the community is being disfranchised under a design.”

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“From around 170,000 before 1989 our number is shown as 72,793 in 2008. It is showcased as an increase from 26,679 in 2002. All this is due to complicated procedure of voting that is open to manipulation by vested interests.” the statement said.

The delegation demanded a sustained campaign should be undertaken by the Commission to ensure 100 per cent registration of eligible voters.

It also demanded that the voting booths for the community should be increased to make it possible for the voters to reach there conveniently.

The delgation demanded that electoral rolls of Kashmir valley are made available to the community in English or Devnagri.

“The Commission assured that necessary steps will be taken to remove the hurdles. The CEC also promised to deploy a senior officer of Deputy Election Commissioner’s rank to oversee and work out the modalities,” the delegation said. (IANS)

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64% Voters cast their vote in the First phase of UP Elections

The polling percentage in the region has bettered the past two elections of 2007 and 2012

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Voters in western UP, (File photo,image source- VOA)

New Delhi/Lucknow, February 11, 2017: The first phase of the UP assembly elections passed off “peacefully” on Saturday with over 64 per cent polling recorded, bettering the record of the past two state polls, the Election Commission said.

“Participation (of voters) has been exemplary,” Deputy Election Commissioner Vijay Dev told reporters in New Delhi.

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Voting continued even after 5 p.m. at some polling stations since voters who had queued up late were allowed to exercise their franchise.

He said the elections spread across 15 districts, 73 assembly constituencies, involved over 2.6 crore voters, 839 candidates, including 73 women candidates.

He said there was no major law and order problem, and EVMs which malfunctioned at few polling booths, were replaced within no time.

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“Elaborate security arrangements were made to ensure free and fair elections,” he said, adding that over two lakh security personnel were deployed at various locations across the 15 districts.

Dev said that nearly three lakh “troublemakers” were bound down.

He said 3,888 cameras were also placed at various locations to keep watch on every activity in poll bound areas.

The Deputy Election Commissioner also said that Rs 19.56 lakh in cash, 4.4 lakh litre of alcohol worth Rs 4.4 lakh and gold and silver worth Rs 14 crore were seized before the elections.

Asked about the call for election boycott at a few places, Dev said that things were sorted out at six out of seven places where poll boycott call was given by the public dissatisfied for various reasons.

He, however, expressed satisfaction on the overall exercise of polling and thanked and congratulated all political parties and general public for their “cooperation”.

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“The first phase (of elections) has set the tone for the next six phases,” he said

The polling percentage in the region has bettered the past two elections of 2007 and 2012, an election official in Lucknow told IANS based on reports gathered from all polling stations. The average polling is over 60 per cent in western UP seats.

According to Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh, T. Venkatesh, the total voter turnout was 64.22 per cent with Shamli recording highest 67.12 per cent.

While in Agra, the voter turnout was 63.88 percent, in Aligarh it was 64.66 percent, Muzaffarnagar 65.50 percent, Hapur 65.67 percent, Firozabad 63.59 percent, Mathura 65.39 percent, Noida 59.17 percent, Ghaziabad 58.10 percent, Bulandshahr 64.65 percent, Etah 64.73 percent, Kasganj 64.83 percent, Meerut 66 percent, Hatharas 64.10 percent and Baghpat polled 64.99 percent.

The polling percentage in Mathura improved by eight per cent over the 2012 state assembly elections.

Total vote percentage in the 2007 state assembly polls was 45.96 percent and 59.40 percent in 2012.

At a few places, polling was disrupted or delayed due to technical snags in EVMs, said an official, adding that by and large voting was smooth and steady at most places.

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Sporadic incidents of poll violence were also reported from some places. Clashes between activists of the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party were reported from two places.

The largest constituency in this phase, as per population, is Sahibabad in Ghaziabad and the smallest is Jalesar in Etah.

There were 26,822 polling centres in this phase of polling. Among the candidates in the fray was Pankaj Singh, the son of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

The seven-phased elections in Uttar Pradesh are from February 11 to March 8. (IANS)

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Fourth phase of Bihar polls ends with 58 per cent vote

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Patna: The fourth and penultimate phase of Bihar’s assembly polls, the biggest popularity test in the country since the February Delhi election the BJP lost, ended on Sunday with around 58 per cent of the 14 million electorate voting, officials said.

Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Grand Alliance of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar claimed they had the upper hand as polling ended in 55 of the 243 constituencies in seven districts.

Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshmanan said the exercise passed off peacefully, including in Maoist strongholds.

About 55.32 per cent voting took place till 4 pm — and 58 per cent when it got over an hour later.

Barring minor clashes, the polling was peaceful, police said. Over two dozen “anti-social elements” were arrested for violating the model code of conduct and threatening election officials.

Even as the voting was on, Prime Minister Modi addressed election rallies in constituencies that will see polling on November 5 – three days before the Bihar result will be known — and urged the people to vote for the BJP-led four-party alliance.

BJP leaders claimed that the large voter turnout showed their party was headed for a victory. The same claim was also made by leaders of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United (JD-U).

Polling in 12 of the constituencies where Maoists are active ended early.

Voters queued up at many polling stations even before they opened. As the day progressed, the pace of polling picked up.

At some places, the electronic voting machines malfunctioned — but they were quickly restored.

There was no major incident of violence. But police used force when political activists clashed outside a polling booth in Sheohar district.

As many as 776 candidates were in the fray on Sunday in the districts of Gopalganj, Siwan, West Champaran, East Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur.

The main contest is between the BJP and its allies the LJP, HAM and RLSP on the one hand, and the JD-U, the RJD and the Congress on the other.

The Bihar election is the most significant political battle after the BJP lost the Delhi assembly election to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in February.

Both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have been on an aggressive drive in a bid to woo voters in Bihar — only to be countered by Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and former chief minister Lalu Prasad, who said again on Sunday that the BJP would face defeat in the state.

(IANS)