Source: 
The Hindu
https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/plea-in-sc-questions-ecs-delay-in-publishing-voter-turnout-data-of-ls-polls/article68160605.ece
Author: 
KRISHNADAS RAJAGOPAL
Date: 
10.05.2024
City: 
New Delhi

‘The inordinate delay in the release of final voter turnout data, coupled with the unusually high revision (of over 5%) in the EC press note of April 30 and the absence of disaggregated constituency and polling station figures in absolute numbers, has raised concerns and public suspicion regarding the correctness of the data’.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on May 10 highlighting the inordinate delay in the publication of voter turnout data coupled with unusually high revisions after the first two phases of polling in the Lok Sabha elections.

Association for Democratic Reforms, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan, Neha Rathi and Cheryl D’Souza, said the delay in publishing the voter-turnout details and a sharp spike in figures from the initial percentages released by the Election Commission have raised concerns and public suspicion regarding the accuracy of the data.

The plea urged the court to direct the EC to disclose authenticated record of voter turnout by uploading on its website scanned legible copies of account of votes recorded at polling stations after each phase of voting in the on-going Lok Sabha elections. Rule 49S and Rule 56C (2) of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 require the presiding officer to prepare an account of votes recorded in form 17C (Part I) and the returning officer to record the number of votes in favour of each candidate.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on May 10 highlighting the inordinate delay in the publication of voter turnout data coupled with unusually high revisions after the first two phases of polling in the Lok Sabha elections.

Association for Democratic Reforms, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan, Neha Rathi and Cheryl D’Souza, said the delay in publishing the voter-turnout details and a sharp spike in figures from the initial percentages released by the Election Commission have raised concerns and public suspicion regarding the accuracy of the data.

The plea urged the court to direct the EC to disclose authenticated record of voter turnout by uploading on its website scanned legible copies of account of votes recorded at polling stations after each phase of voting in the on-going Lok Sabha elections. Rule 49S and Rule 56C (2) of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 require the presiding officer to prepare an account of votes recorded in form 17C (Part I) and the returning officer to record the number of votes in favour of each candidate.

Further, it sought the publication of a constituency and polling station wise figures of voter turnout in absolute numbers and in percentage form.

The petition also urged the court to direct the ECI to disclose the candidate-wise result of counting after the compilation of results.

The petition said the voter turnout data for the first two phases of the Lok Sabha elections were published by the EC on April 30, after 11 days of the first phase of polling held on April 19 and four days after the second phase of polling held on April 26.

The data published by the ECI in its April 30 press release showed a sharp increase (by about 5-6%) from the initial percentages announced by it on the polling day.

Initially, on April 19, after the first phase of polling, the EC had issued a press note stating that the tentative figure of voter turnout across 21 States/UTs reported was over 60% as of 7 p.m. Similarly, after the second phase on April 26, the ECI had said the turnout was at 60.96%

“The inordinate delay in the release of final voter turnout data, coupled with the unusually high revision (of over 5%) in the EC press note of April 30 and the absence of disaggregated constituency and polling station figures in absolute numbers, has raised concerns and public suspicion regarding the correctness of the data… These apprehensions must be addressed and put to rest” the petition said.

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