Why the phantom voter matters?

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As exit polls and political analysts take center stage, an undiscussed entity that may determine Delhi’s next government: The Phantom Voter.

A recent study by Janagraaha found that 1 in 4 persons registered on the Delhi voters list needed deletion. The Delhi Election Commission survey last year found 15 lakh non-existent voters in Delhi. In a closely fought election like the current one, these phantom voters could make a crucial difference in determining the results.

In an attempt to clean the electoral rolls, the Janagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy carried out the Proper Urban Electoral (PURE) exercise to verify the accuracy of voters list. The exercise started with Bangalore constituencies and has recently been extended to Delhi.

Chart 1 looks at the number of voters to be deleted in 8 constituencies in Delhi as determined by the Janaagraha PURE survey. Chart 2 looks at the margin of victories in these constituencies in the 2013 assembly elections.

All data is taken from Janagraaha’s PURE list and the Election Commission of India.

Deleted Voters-page-001Victory Margin-page-001

This phenomenon is not unique to Delhi. In the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, more than 500,000 voters were registered in Bangalore. Compare this to the numbers from 2008 to 2013, just 80, 683.

In Varanasi, the UP State Election Commission found that more than 300,000 names were repeated (i.e, present more than once). The Commission is currently weeding out genuine name overlaps with repeated voters.

In a closely fought election, where a few hundred votes could make the difference, these phantom voters could decide victory and defeat. Delhi’s fate may lie with them.

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