Votes of elderly people getting cast by party agents and mock poll data not being cleared before commencement of election were among the factors for ordering repoll in 13 polling stations in Tamil Nadu on May 19, Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said on Thursday.
In as many as 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, he told reporters in Chennai, quoting the Dharmapuri district election officer.
“In some cases, the votes of elderly people were cast either by political party agents or the person who accompanied them. Since the voters have not cast their vote in a free and fair manner, the returning officers for Dharmapuri Lok Sabha and Pappireddipatti assembly constituencies recommended repoll in all the eight polling stations,” Sahoo said.
In a polling station falling under Tiruvallur (SC) Lok Sabha seat, polling started without clearing mock poll data which showed a variation of 38 votes and hence repoll was ordered there, he pointed out.
During the process of “candidates 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 Lok Sabha constituency and hence repoll was ordered there, he said.
In one booth falling under Andipatti assembly seat under Theni Lok Sabha constituency, 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 repoll was recommended there, he said.
At a booth in Erode parliamentary seat, 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 repolling was recommended in 10 booths, including eight in Dharmapuri, and one each in Tiruvallur and Cuddalore Parliamentary 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 repoll 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, Sahoo said.
“There is no chance of repolling anywhere else in the State and all factors were considered before recommending repolling,” he said in response to a question.
He said EVMs and VVPATs were shifted to Theni and Erode anticipating the possibility of repolls days ago.
Raising suspicion, the Opposition parties had objected to shifting of EVMs from Coimbatore to Theni and Erode though the CEO had clarified that it was ‘normal’, keeping in mind the requirements in case of a repolling.
“Again, only in the presence of political parties (EVMs and VVPATs in Erode and Theni), it will be checked and only then it will be used (for repolls),” he said.
The CEO Wednesday announced repolling 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.