EC denies divergence in number of votes cast and polled

Karnataka bypoll, Kumaraswamy, Siddaramaiah, Election Commission
Last week, the EC had announced that the bypolls will be held on October 21 along with the Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana (PTI File)

Disputing media reports that the votes counted in the Lok Sabha elections don’t tally with the votes cast, the Election Commission of India (ECI) issued a clarification on Saturday saying the final votes polled tally is yet to be released. The EC said the voter turnout percentage figures on its website are only provisional and the final tally will be released soon. “It is incorrect inference to find ghost voters when there are none,” the EC said in a statement.

How it is done

The EC explained: The provisional voter turnout data is displayed as percentage figure on ECI website and voter helpline mobile app on the poll day as uploaded by the Returning Officer (RO)/Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) based on the approximate percentage turnout figures obtained from Sector magistrates who in-turn get it periodically over phone/ in person from about 10 Presiding Officers.

After scrutiny of documents by the RO, provisional number of general voters’ turnout is compiled and uploaded on the ECI website based on the polling station wise tentative voter turnout data reported by the presiding officers, with male/female voter breakup, added together to get the PC wise provisional voter turnout.

All these figures are provisional, based on estimates which are subject to change as is made clear from the disclaimer on the website that “the data is estimated and subject to change”.

This provisional voter turnout data is made available by ROs on regular intervals, which is collated by Chief Electoral Officers and ECI on the website for wider dissemination and to ensure transparency in information dissemination.

At the time of counting, postal ballots received up to 8 AM on counting day are first pre-counted and valid postal ballots are then taken up for after actual counting for both of the categories A the Service voters and B the polling personnel deployed for the poll duties.

The postal ballot count is added to the EVM general voters’ count to give the final votes polled in every PC and the votes secured candidate wise and the winning candidate is given return certificate in form 21E by the returning officers.

Based on both the EVM votes and Postal Ballots counted, the RO prepares Form 21E and Index Card in which the breakup of voterturnout, including tendered votes for the Constituency, is tallied to get the final voter turnout for each Constituency.

Form 21E is the return of election as specified under rule 64 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, for which the sole authority is the RO concerned. Also, Index card in use since last over five decades, is prepared by the RO to furnish the voting data (including postal ballot data), polled and counted, after the declaration of the Result, which becomes the final authenticated data for all purposes including analysis and research.

Index card

For general elections 2019, ECI has already directed all the returning officers on 26th March 2019 to send the Index card within 15 days of the declaration of the Result.
In earlier elections, it used to take months to collect such authenticated election data from all the ROs.

Even in 2014, it took between 2 to 3 months after the declaration of results to collect and collate such data in authenticated form. Due to the innovative IT initiatives taken by the Commission this time, the final data on votes counted has been made available within a few days of declaration of results.

The reconciliation of voters’ data for all PCs have been completed in all states and the Index Forms of all 542 PCs are expected to reach ECI from Returning Officers shortly, which after compilation, shall be immediately be made Public by the Election Commission.

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