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EC dismisses concerns as Kasaragod mock poll sparks row

EC dismisses concerns as Kasaragod mock poll sparks row


Mangalore Today News Network

Kasaragod, April 19, 2024: The Election Commission has termed as ‘baseless’ the reports that electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Kasaragod Lok Sabha constituency erroneously logged in votes in favour of the BJP during the mock polls.

 

EVM


Irregularities were detected in four EVMs during the mock poll in Kasaragod constituency on Wednesday. When the ‘vote’ was cast for all 10 candidates in the EVMs, the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine issued 11 printouts.

The BJP’s ‘lotus’ symbol was found to have been printed twice during the mock poll.

In the wake of the complaints, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Kerala, Sanjay Kaul, sought a report from the district collector of Kasaragod, who is also the district electoral officer, on the matter. As per the report, the VVPAT slip that was not printed during the initial inspection conducted by officials, came out printed during the mock poll, causing the confusion.

According to the CEO, the message ‘not to be counted’ was printed on this slip. It also recorded ‘Standardisation done’, and the ‘VVPAT serial number’. “Besides, the slip was also longer than other VVPAT slips. All this makes it all the more evident that the slip obtained during the mock poll was the preliminary examination slip,” the official said.

Kaul added that all voting machines used in the Lok Sabha elections in the state are completely safe and flawless and that there is no need for any apprehensions. He said the commissioning of EVMs is carried out by engineers of Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) under the direct supervision of assistant returning officers. The commissioning process takes place in the presence of the candidates or agents appointed by the candidates, and the process is also fully webcast, he said.

The issue also came up before the Supreme Court on Thursday when it heard a batch of petitions seeking direction to the Union government to ensure that voters are able to verify through VVPATs that their vote has been been “counted as recorded”.

‘Irregularities related to VVPAT machines sorted’


Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for a petitioner, cited a report on mock poll results in Kasaragod. Following this, the apex court bench directed the ECI to examine and inquire into the allegations. Later, the ECI made it clear to the top court that the allegations with regard to the Kasaragod incident was not correct.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Kasaragod, District Collector Inbasekar K said the irregularities related to four VVPAT machines were sorted. “The commissioning process was finalised once the candidates’ agents were satisfied. We are fully convinced of the operation of the machines,” he said. However, two of the VVPAT machines in question were replaced due to technical problems based on the report of the polling officials, he said. Nassar Cherkalam, UDF candidate Rajmohan Unnithan’s agent, who brought the issue to the media’s notice said there is no assurance that an error will not occur again. “VVPAT is not used for counting votes. But in a scenario, when the VVPAT has to be counted for crosschecking and the BJP agent claims the votes to be counted, it will create complications regarding the result,” he pointed out.


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