Extended voting hours in capital likely in LS polls

 Delhi voters may get at least an extra hour for exercising their franchise during the April-May Lok Sabha elections, according to a proposal sent to the Election Commission.

Voting is expected to continue beyond the usual deadline of 5 pm as the Delhi Election Office has recommended to the EC that the voting hours may be extended in view of the sudden rush observed in the last hour of casting ballot in the December 4, 2012 Assembly elections, said an official.

The dates for elections to the seven parliamentary constituencies in the capital are expected to be announced in the first week of March.

“In Delhi, may be due to traffic, people’s workplaces being located in neighbouring towns and urban lifestyle issues, there seems to be a tendency among voters to step into voting booths late,” Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Dev said.

“It is for the EC to decide if the number of hours for voting can be extended from the normal 8 am to 5 pm. It may be 8 am to 6 pm or 7 am to 6 pm,” Dev said.

He said the suggestion to the EC is linked to the experience in the Assembly elections, during which voters continued to cast their ballot in some booths till 9 pm. Almost 66 per cent of the 1.2 crore eligible voters exercised their franchise in the Assembly polls.
“The law says that any voter who enters the premises of the polling station before 5 pm is to be allowed to exercise his franchise. In the Assembly elections, the number of voters swelled in the last 5-10 minutes in some booths,” he said.

“For the Lok Sabha elections, we now plan to use SMSes and other media to educate voters to avoid long queues at the booths by voting early in the day,” he said, adding that his team will give emphasis to fighting urban apathy in the ensuing elections.

On preparation for the Lok Sabha polls, Dev said the annual summary revision of the electoral rolls has been completed till January 31.

“Two lakh fresh names have been added to the list of the 1.2 crore voters, who were eligible to vote in the December 4 Assembly polls,” he said.

Most of the new names are of young, first-time voters who turned 18 before January 1, 2014, he said.

“In the Assembly polls, only those voters who were 18 years old as on January 1, 2013 were eligible to vote,” Dev said.

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