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regular-article-logo Friday, 21 June 2024

No delay in release of voter turnout data; alteration in number of votes not possible: EC

The poll panel came out with the absolute number of voters on its own a day after the Supreme Court refused to issue directions to it on an NGO's plea for uploading the polling booth-wise voter turnout data on its website

PTI New Delhi Published 25.05.24, 07:32 PM
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The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday came out with the constituency-wise data on the number of votes cast in the first five phases of the Lok Sabha polls and said there is a pattern in creating false narratives and mischievous designs to vitiate the electoral process.

It also asserted that any alteration in the number of the votes polled is not possible.

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The poll panel came out with the absolute number of voters on its own a day after the Supreme Court refused to issue directions to it on an NGO's plea for uploading the polling booth-wise voter turnout data on its website.

The EC said it has decided to further expand the format of the turnout data to include the absolute number of voters in every constituency.

The absolute numbers are discernable constituency-wise by all citizens by applying the turnout percentage to the total number of electors, both already made available in the public domain, the poll panel said.

Electors are those on the electoral roll and eligible to vote. Voters are those who actually cast their votes in an election. While the EC had been issuing the turnout percentage, there were demands to make the actual number of voters in every phase public.

Referring to the apprehension expressed by some opposition parties that the turnout data can be fudged, the poll panel said the process of collection and storage of the votes polled is rigorous, transparent and participative.

The entire exercise of releasing the turnout data from the date of commencement of the Lok Sabha polls on April 19 has been "accurate, consistent and in accordance with election laws and without any discrepancy whatsoever", the EC said.

Explaining the details, it said the final list of electors is given to the candidates after the list of the contesting candidates is finalised.

"Authorised agents of all candidates will be having form 17C (the document that records the booth-wise data of the votes polled) across the 543 seats distinctively for each of the approximately 10.5 lakh polling stations," it underlined, indicating that there is no scope for fudging the data.

The poll panel further said the total number of votes polled in a constituency, as recorded in form 17C, can never be changed even by anyone's hypothetical mischief, as it is available with all the contesting candidates.

Agents of the candidates are always allowed to accompany the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and statutory papers, including form 17C, from the polling station till those are stored in a strong room in accordance with Rule 49V(2) of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, it noted. The candidates or their agents bring a copy of form 17C to the counting centre and compare it with the result in each round.

"The voter turnout data was always available on the app. The commission underlines that there has been no delay in the release of the voter turnout data," the EC said.

It said the voter turnout data was always available 24x7 on the facilitative Voter Turnout App from 9:30 am on the polling day in each phase.

Different media organisations pick up the data at different points in time in accordance with their convenience to report the next morning, it noted.

"Any alleged delay in the issue of press notes of phase 1 does not mean that the data was not available in the public domain all the time through the voter turnout app," the EC said.

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court earlier this week, the commission expressed concern that there is a "design, a pattern" that is at play and the petitioners are not approaching courts with clean hands.

They are misusing the forum of the court with an agenda to perpetually keep creating doubts in the minds of the voters based on conspiracy theories, it said.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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