Re-polling in 5 Tamil Nadu booths due to mismatch in EVM-VVPAT tally

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Amid allegations of unreliability of EVMs by the opposition, five polling booths in Tamil Nadu, which registered discrepancies in the number of votes registered on EVMs and VVPATs, will go for re-polling on May 19.  Re-polling will also be held in eight other polling booths in Dharmapuri district which saw voting malpractice.

Following the huge political outrage over the shifting of EVMs from Coimbatore to Theni on Wednesday (May 8) Tamil Nadu chief electoral officer Satyabrata Sahoo clarified that the EVMs were shifted as he had recommended re-polling in 46 polling booths in Tamil Nadu.

Sahoo, on May 8, said that against his recommendation of holding re-polling in 46 booths (apart from the eight in Dharmapuri constituency), election commission has passed orders for re-polling only in three. These three booths have registered discrepancies in EVM and VVPAT vote numbers.

The EC also agreed on re-polling in the two other booths based on an earlier recommendation of the CEO.

With regard to the other 43 polling booths, Sahoo told The Federal that the EC has instructed election officials to count the votes from the VVPAT and not from the EVMs. “In these 43 polling booths, mock polling data was removed from the VVPATs but not from the EVMS. So, EC has ordered that the VVPAT slips of the actual poll be counted,” Sahoo said.

A day after EC ordered re-polling in 13 polling booths of Tamil Nadu, Sahoo on Thursday (May 9) listed out the polling booths that would go for the re-polling on May 19. Of the 13 booths, re-polling in the eight booths in the Dharmapuri was ordered after the district election officer confirmed that the polling agents had entered voting compartments along with voters on multiple occasions.

Of the other five polling booths, two are in Theni constituency and one each in Tiruvallur, Cuddalore and Erode constituencies. In Cuddalore, re-polling has been ordered as the button (corresponding to the name of a candidate from AMMK) on the EVM was covered. Earlier, AMMK led by the TTV Dhinakaran had filed a complaint with the CEO in this regard.

Except one booth in the Cuddalore constituency, the reason for re-polling in four other booths were attributed to discrepancies in the total number of votes cast in the EVMs and in number of votes registered on the VVPATs.

Explaining the reason for re-polling in one of the polling station in Tiruvallur constituency, the EC order said polling began even without clearing the mock poll data. Therefore, there was a variation of 38 votes between VVPAT and EVMs. “The presiding officer corrected it by casting votes on NOTA, so as to equate the variation. Hence re-poll is recommended by the returning officer for Tiruvallur constituency,” the statement read.

Similarly, in one polling booth each in Erode and Theni, mock poll data was not cleared and hence there were variations in the votes cast in EVMs and VVPAT machines.

Sahoo said that the mess happened as it was the first time that VVPAT was implemented across the country. “It is not the case in Tamil Nadu alone. There were such discrepancies in the number of votes in VVPATs and EVMs elsewhere also,” he added.

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