Sunday 9 May 2021
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Bogus votes in Kerala were exposed this way

The Indian National Congress (INC) team entrusted with unearthing irregularities in the voters’ list has shared with the media the way they went about exposing the scourge of bogus votes in the state. A tiny, precious jewel dropped on a sandy beach can be retrieved soon enough when you know where to look for it, and this is easy for the person who actually saw the jewel being dropped — the INC sources said, drawing an analogy.

The INC team used localised surveillance coupled with a combination of strategy and analysis to unearth the bogus votes, which have shaken up the election commission and dragged the authority to court.

The party named the mission ‘Operation Twins’. Unlike in the past, the team dug deep to come up with solid material to corroborate the claim.

Scanning a list of over 2.5 crore voters was not enough to complete the process of identifying multiple votes. The process involved a task of information gathering, data processing and crosschecking which engaged a network of booth-level workers, strategists and analysts who worked with the approval of topmost UDF leaders in Kerala.

The process ranged from simple leg work, house visits to multi-layered analysis using digital tools.

The team started with the integrated draft list in November 2020. By March, they had spent days and nights, sending voters’ lists with suspicious entries to local-level booth workers and then subjecting it to cross verification.

The actual process began in 2011 when the INC lamented narrow losses in some of the constituencies in Kerala. It hurt more in 2016 and local body elections. There were isolated speculations about bogus votes, but often the intent was missing to establish the truth. Getting to the heart of the matter meant getting to the roots.

The Kerala state assembly elections will be held in a single phase on 6 April. The number of polling booths in Kerala has been extended from 21,498 to 40,771. The counting of votes will take place on 2 May.

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