Srinagar: The final voter list of Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Territory that was bifurcated from the erstwhile state in 2019, has been published on Monday, adding more than 2.3 lakh new voters to the electoral roll. The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir, Pandurang K. Pole, said that the final voter list has a total of 86.93 lakh voters, of which 44.34 lakh are men and 42.58 lakh are women. The publication of the voter list paves the way for conducting various elections in the Union Territory, including the assembly polls expected to be held soon.
The final voter list was prepared after a rigorous process of revision and verification, which involved the participation of political parties, booth-level officers, and the public. An official spokesperson of the CEO said, “The final voter list has been published today in all polling stations, offices of Electoral Registration Officers, offices of District Election Officers here and uploaded on the website of the CEO incorporating 2.31 lakh new voters.” The spokesperson added that the new voters include 1.15 lakh young voters in the age group of 18-19 years, who will exercise their franchise for the first time.
The spokesperson also said that the final voter list has corrected the details of 1.45 lakh voters, and deleted 86,000 names due to death, transfer, or other reasons during the process. The voter population ratio, which indicates the percentage of eligible voters in the total population, has increased from 0.59 to 0.60, and the sex ratio, which indicates the number of female voters per 1000 male voters, has increased from 924 to 954. The spokesperson said that these figures reflect the improvement in the quality and accuracy of the voter list.
The final voter list was prepared following the detailed instructions of the Election Commission of India (ECI), which had directed the CEO to conduct a special summary revision of the electoral roll concerning January 1, 2023, as the qualifying date. The ECI had also instructed the CEO to create new polling stations after consultation with political parties during the process. As a result, 259 new polling stations were created, taking the total number of polling stations in the Union Territory to 11,639.
The CEO had also engaged the stakeholders, including recognized state and national parties, in the process of revision and verification of the voter list. The District Election Officers (DEOs) held meetings with the representatives of the parties, briefed them about the entire process to be followed, and asked them to participate in the process by appointing booth-level agents. The CEO had also appealed to the voters to assist the booth-level officers in adding, deleting, correcting, and transferring the names of eligible voters, and verifying their details online or offline.
The publication of the final voter list is a significant step towards holding the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been under the President’s rule since June 2018, when the BJP-PDP coalition government collapsed. The state was bifurcated into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, in August 2019, following the abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to the state. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has a provision for a legislative assembly, while Ladakh does not. The assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir are expected to be held after the delimitation exercise, which is underway to redraw the boundaries of the assembly constituencies, is completed. The delimitation commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, will likely submit its report by March 2024.