After the EVM hacking theory didn’t hold ground following the massive win of NDA in the Lok Sabha elections, a new theory has been tried to be floated by some sections of media to allege foul play in the elections. In an attempt to discredit the BJP led NDA’s win and to suggest that the elections were somehow rigged, now a conspiracy theory has emerged to allege that in many places, the number of total votes counted was more than the total number of votes polled on election day.
As a part of that mudslinging on the election process, propaganda portal NewsClick.in has published a report alleging that thousands of phantom votes are suspected in several Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar, UP, Delhi and MP. The website, which is a promoter of dubious Hate Crime Watch in association with FactChecker.in, says they analysed eight constituencies, where they found that excess votes recorded in these seats are more than the winning margin.
They have attached a table showing the numbers to prove that the actual votes counted during the counting are more than the total votes. But a cursory glance of the table will tell that they used some clever manipulations and selective inclusions and exclusions to arrive at the numbers they desired to obtain.
It may be noted that the report is authored by Chandan Nandy and Kashif Kakvi. Nandy earlier worked in Quint, where he had written several fake reports, which were later withdrawn by the portal.
First, while they claim that such discrepancies are more than the winning margin, their own data shows exactly one example of such incident, Jahanabad in Bihar, where the winning margin of 1751 is less than the alleged vote mismatch of 24,507. For all other seats in their example, they have mentioned winning margins like 4 lakh (Begusarai), 2.84 lakh (Patna Sahib) etc, which are far more than the vote difference of few thousand they have calculated. In the 8 examples NewsClick has cited, the winning margin in 7 of them is far more than the alleged discrepancy.
Second, while taking the counted votes, the propaganda portal used the total votes as shown in the Election Commission results site. But the EC is showing EVM votes and postal votes separately, and it is obvious that the postal votes will not be included in the votes polled on the election day. The polled votes should be compared with EVM votes, but they compared it with total votes including postal votes to claim that totally counted votes are more than the polled votes.
Third, they didn’t use actual votes polled in the constituencies, instead, they used polling percentage and used that to arrive at their own total polled votes. Note that they have labelled it as “Total polled votes should be…”, not “Total votes polled”. The polling percentages they have used to calculate the turnouts also do not match with ECI numbers. This means that the turnout numbers they have used are not correct, therefore their entire analysis is based on such incorrect data.
We have checked the actual numbers for the constituencies mentioned by NewsClick, and found that there are huge discrepancies between actual numbers and the numbers mentioned by them. The voter turnout numbers are available in the Voter Turnout mobile app, and the votes counted are available on the election results website. In the 8 seats, 2 of them, Jahanabad and Patna Sahib in Bihar went to poll in the 7th phase, and the Election Commission has not released final turnout figures this phase, so we are unable to verify the claims of NewsClick for these two seats.
Among the rest 6, there is absolutely no difference between the polled numbers shown in the App and the EVM counted numbers in three seats. In two, there are minor differences, where the counted numbers are actually slightly less than the turnout numbers, the differences being 572 for Begusarai and 190 for Farrukhabad. There is only one constituency in the eight where the official counted votes are more than the official turnout, 7,354 in Badaun, UP. In the report they have mentioned that there were 13,657 excess votes in Amethi, but as per official records, the difference is just 34.
Such minor discrepancies are most probably clerical errors, as ECI is still in the process of reconciliation of numbers. When media and opposition parties question the election process including the EVM, they overlook one major aspect of the system followed by Election Commission. The candidates and/or their authorised agents are always present in every step of the process, and they also need to put their signs and seals in those steps. After the end of polling, the total number of votes polled in a booth are recorded on Form 17C, and a copy of the same is mandatorily handed over to the respective polling agents of the candidates.
On the day of counting, the total votes shown in an EVM is always tallied with the number recorded on the Form 17C, which the Counting agents of the candidates also can match with the copy of the form provided on the polling day. Therefore, if there is any discrepancy between these numbers, Election officials take necessary steps as laid down in the law. After the counting is done for a booth, the results are noted down in part II of the Form 17C, where signatures of the Counting agents are obtained.
Official results are declared only after all these formalities are completed and the candidates of their authorised counting agents have accepted the results by putting their signatures. If there were any discrepancies, the Counting Agents of candidates would have raised it during the counting itself. To raise doubt about the election results by using such allegations is thus nothing but propaganda to question the credibility of the Indian election machinery.
Update: The report has been now deleted from the NewsClick website.