Voting malpractice prompted Dharmapuri re-poll, says CEO

Of the 13 polling booths going for re-polling on May 19 in Tamil Nadu, eight are in Dharmapuri constituency.

Sources said it had been proven beyond doubt that polling agents entered the voting compartment along with the voters on many occasions. A day after the polling, there were videos and photographs of people casting votes for a second time.

Chief electoral officer (CEO) Satyabrata Sahoo, taking cognizance of the reports, sought a report from the Dharmapuri district election officer (DEO). Sources said of the eight polling booths in Dharmapuri, four were in Nathamedu village, a Dalit majority area.

Satyabrata Sahoo told reporters on April 20 that he had recommended re-polling in 10 polling booths including eight in Dharmapuri. After a flurry of communication between the CEO, DEO and the ECI, re-polling was confirmed in eight polling booths in Dharmapuri on May 8.

Listing the reasons for the re-poll in the eight booths, a statement said, the DEO, Dharmapuri had stated that polling agents entered the voting compartment along with voters on multiple occasions.

“In some cases, the vote of elderly people were cast either by political party agents or the person who accompanied them. Since the voters had not cast their votes in a free and fair manner, the returning officer for Dharmapuri parliamentary constituency and returning officer for Pappireddipatti assembly constituency have recommended re-poll in all the 8 polling stations,” the statement read.

Earlier, citing a report in The Hindu, DMK candidate S Senthil Kumar had petitioned the collector seeking re-polling in 10 booths. In the petition, Senthil Kumar had alleged that multiple votes had been cast by certain individuals at the behest of booth agents of a political party in alliance with the AIADMK.

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