ECI Defends Voter Turnout Data Amid Allegations

On Saturday, the Election Commission of India (ECI) released the absolute voter turnout figures for the first five phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections
ECI Defends Voter Turnout Data Amid Allegations

On Saturday, the Election Commission of India (ECI) released the absolute voter turnout figures for the first five phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The ECI emphasized that polling data has always been accessible to both candidates and the public, countering claims of misinformation.

The Commission criticized what it described as a "pattern of false narratives and mischievous design to vitiate the electoral process." It reaffirmed that voter turnout data is promptly available through its app starting from 9:30 am on each poll day.

The ECI's statement came a day after the Supreme Court declined to direct the poll body to upload polling booth-wise voter turnout data on its website during the elections. The Court favored a "hands-off attitude" amidst the ongoing electoral process, a stance that the ECI welcomed.

The poll panel had opposed the demand from an NGO, arguing that such a move would "vitiate" the electoral space and cause "chaos" in the midst of general elections. The ECI felt reinforced by the Supreme Court's decision, stating it validates their process of releasing turnout data.

The ECI highlighted the integrity of the voting process, noting that any alteration of the number of votes polled is impossible due to the rigorous, transparent, and participative process involved. It pointed out that authorized agents of all candidates possess Form 17C, which records the total number of votes polled at each of the approximately 10.5 lakh polling stations across 543 parliamentary constituencies. This form ensures the total number of votes cannot be altered as they are accessible to all contesting candidates.

The Commission further explained that agents of candidates are permitted to accompany Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and statutory papers, including Form 17C, from the polling station to storage in a strong room as per Rule 49 V (2) of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961. These agents can then compare their copy of Form 17C with the results at the counting center in each round.

In summary, the ECI defended its practices, emphasizing transparency and the involvement of candidate agents in the voting process to maintain the integrity of election data. The Commission reiterated that the electoral process is designed to prevent any manipulation of polling numbers.

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