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EC releases the absolute number of voters for all completed phases, says it could always be calculated & reiterates that nobody can change data of votes

As the number of registered voters in each constituency is already in public domain, it was anyway easy to calculate the number of votes from number of total voters and the polling percentage. Still, ECI has decided to publish the absolute numbers too.

Amid the demands of left-wing activists for the publication of Form 17C data, which records the voter turnout in each polling booth, the Election Commission of India on Saturday published the absolute number of voters for all the constituencies that went to vote in the first 5 phases of the General Elections. This comes a day after the Supreme Court of India refused to direct the ECI to publish the number of votes cast in the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections within 48 hours of polling.

In a press release dated 25 May, the ECI said that it feels duly strengthened by the Supreme Court’s observations and verdict on the process of release of turnout data. “This brings upon the Commission, a higher responsibility to serve the cause of electoral democracy with undeterred resolution,” ECI stated.

The Commission has therefore decided to further expand the format of release of turnout data to include the absolute number of voters in every parliamentary constituency. Till now, ECI was publishing the percentage of voting in each constituency, and activists and some political parties were demanding that ECI should publish the absolute numbers of votes too.

However, as the number of registered voters in each constituency is already in the public domain, it was anyway easy to calculate the number of votes from number of total voters and the polling percentage. Still, ECI has decided to publish the absolute numbers too.

In the press release, the ECI stressed that any alteration in the number of votes polled is not possible. It said, “The process of collection and storage of votes polled is rigorous, transparent and participative. The Commission and its officials across the states have been disseminating voter turnout data in the best possible manner, taking into account statutory considerations. The whole exercise of release of turnout data from the date of commencement of polls on 19th April 2024 has been accurate, consistent and in accordance with election laws and without any discrepancy whatsoever.”

The commission also explained the detailed process of recording and release of turnout data, and how Form 17C is used and kept in custody, which is already in public domain and explained to political parties.

This is the detailed procedure which ensures that the Form 17C data can’t be altered:

  • Final List of electors is given to candidates after the list of contesting candidates is finalized.
  • Authorized agents of all candidates will be having form 17C across 543 PCs, distinctively for each of approximately 10.5 lakh polling stations.
  • 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 contesting candidates.
  • Agents of candidates are always allowed to accompany EVM 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.
  • The candidate or his agents bring the copy of the form 17C to the counting centre and compare it with the result in each round.

Again Responding to allegations of delay in publishing turnout data, ECI said that there has been no delay in the release of voter turnout data which is released via ECI’s Voter Turnout app. The app starts publishing turnout data in 9.30 am on the poll day, and updates the same every 2 hours. The data is continuous updated, even after voting is over and polling parties start reaching the election office.

By midnight on the poll day, the Voter turnout app shows best estimated “Close of Poll (COP)” data in percentage form. Different media organisations pick up data at different points in time as per their convenience to report. After the arrival of the poll parties, depending on geographical and weather conditions, the data of voters attains finality on P+1 or P+2 or P+3 or more days, depending upon arrival of parties and number of repolls, if any, the press release stated.

ECI said that issue of press note with the voting data is just an additional measure while full data is always available 24×7 on the Voter turnout App. Notably, as the press notes are issued a later date, activists and opposition parties are alleging delay in publication of turnout data, despite the fact that the data is readily available on the app. Moreover, the turnout percentage shown in the app can be used to calculate the actual numbers of votes polled.

The press release said, “The Commission has issued 13 press notes on voter turnout for five phases. Any alleged delay in the issue of press notes of phase 1 does not mean that data was not available in the public domain all the time through voter turnout app.” The ECI also said that it has added some features to the turnout app, like aggregate phase wise turnout figure, constituency wise elector data, releasing Voter turnout data at around 2345 hours also on poll day, and issuing third press note of each phase on P+4 day when repolls, if any have also been concluded.  

At the end of the press release, the ECI annexures giving percentage and actual number of votes polled in 428 Lok Sabha constituencies where voting has been concluded in the first 5 phases from 19 April to 20 May.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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