CHENNAI: The 'lapses' on the part of the poll officials who did not clear the mock poll data from either the EVMs or VVPATs and in certain cases the votes of the elders getting cast by political party agents are among the reasons for the Election Commission of India ordering re-poll in 13 polling stations State Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo has said.
Also, the CEO justified the shifting of EVMs and VVPATs to Theni and Erode from Coimbatore, saying they were moved out anticipating re-poll.
The sudden shifting of EVMs and VVPATs raised suspicion among the opposition parties and the DMK even petitioned the ECI seeking a clarification.
“It is normal (to shift), keeping in mind the requirements in case of a re-polling. Again, only in the presence of political parties (EVMs and VVPATs in Erode and Theni), will be checked and only then it will be used (for re-polls), the CEO clarified. On Wednesday, the ECI announced re-polling on May 19 in 13 polling stations where polling was held on April 18. The Election Commission had earlier announced that by-polls to four Assembly segments of Tiruparrankundram, Aravakkurichi, Sulur, Ottapidaram would be held on May 19.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr. Sahoo said in eight booths falling under the Dharmapuri Lok Sabha constituency, it was proved beyond doubt that the polling agents entered inside the voting compartment along with the voters on many occasions.
Quoting the Dharmapuri district election officer, he said, “in some cases, the votes of elderly people were cast either by political party agents or the person who accompanied them. Since voters have not cast their vote in a free and fair manner, the returning officers for Dharmapuri and Pappireddipatti constituencies recommended re-poll in all the eight polling stations,” Sahoo said.
At a polling station in Tiruvallur, polling started without clearing mock poll data which showed a variation of 38 votes and hence re-poll was ordered there, he pointed out. During the process of "’andidates setting’ (arranging the names of candidates in the EVM), there was an error which resulted in ‘the blue button being not open and visible,’ in respect of a candidate in a booth under Cuddalore constituency and hence re-poll was ordered there, he explained.
In one booth in Andipatti constituency under Theni Lok Sabha seat, though mock poll data was cleared from the Control Unit (EVM), VVPAT slips of mock poll were not removed.
As regards another polling station in Theni Lok Sabha seat, under Periyakulam Assembly segment, the ‘close result clear’ protocol was not followed – CRC button was not pressed to reset in the allotted EVM – and subsequently the EVMs and VVPATs were changed without prior permission and intimation.
It could not be ascertained whether all those who voted in the originally allotted EVM cast their vote in replaced EVM and hence re-poll was recommended there.
At a booth in Erode, the presiding officer had conducted mock poll with 50 votes and not cleared the data before commencement of the poll.
“During the closure of poll, it was confirmed that the difference between the Control Unit and 17 A (Register of Votes) was 41 votes instead of 50 votes. The reason for missing nine votes could not be traced,” warranting a repoll.
On April 21, the CEO had said re-polling was recommended in 10 booths, including eight in Dharmapuri, and one each in Tiruvallur and Cuddalore constituencies.
Subsequently, some ‘mistakes’, including holding polls without clearing mock poll data, either in EVMs or VVPATs or both as the case may be, were seen in 46 booths and the Election Commission ordered re-poll in three of them, one in Erode and two in Theni.
As regards 43 other booths where polls were held without clearing mock poll data in EVMs but cleared in VVPATs, the Election Commission has ordered counting the VVPATs alone.
“There is no chance of re-polling anywhere else in the state and all factors were considered before recommending re-polling,” he said in response to a question....