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EC echoes count fears

New Delhi, May 21: The Election Commission today admitted in the Supreme Court having received complaints from voters that counting based on polling booths/units led to detection and posed a threat to their safety.

The commission told a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and N.V. Ramana that it had written to the Centre to amend the rules to ensure votes from multiple electronic voting machines (EVMs) spread across polling stations are mixed and counted together to avoid such detection.

The commission said it wanted the Representation of the People Act, 1951, amended so the present system of counting was dispensed with.

“Instead, we have proposed that 15 units (boxes/EVMs) are pooled together (from different areas) and the votes counted to avoid detection of the voters,” the poll panel’s counsel, Vasav Anantha Raman, told the court.

He said the Centre had not responded to the panel’s letter so far, prompting the court to issue a notice to the government asking for its response and posting the matter for further hearing to July 7.

Today’s hearing came on a petition the court admitted on May 12 — the final phase of the election — seeking a change in the rules.

The plea sought a directive to the commission to ensure that votes cast in various polling stations of a constituency are mixed and then counted to conceal the identity of the voters and prevent intimidation by leaders.

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had faced such allegations in this election, accused of threatening to stop water to villagers if they did not vote for his cousin, party chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, in Baramati.