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Millennium Post

Counting karma

The Election Commission’s communication to Supreme Court – that it is against ward-wise declaration of vote count in polls as per the current norm and would prefer a method of mixing and cluster counting to protect right to privacy attached to voting  – is an important step in bringing about electoral reforms. Secret ballot is the cornerstone of democratic election and ward-wise collection of results indeed gives away the demographic chart chalked along narrow party lines. While it is important to understand seat-wise distribution of votes to study the electoral impact of the political parties and their candidates, a ward-specific method compromises the security of polling officials, booth managers as well as the voters. The public interest litigation in this regard was filed in the wake of Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s warning to residents of Baramati village on the eve of polling that water supply would be cut off in case NCP candidate Supriya Sule didn’t get enough votes to secure the seat. Similar threats are routine in other states like West Bengal (both under former Left Front and current TMC regime), and Uttar Pradesh, where booth capturing and post-election violence are frequent occurrence. However, mixing of ballots by ascribing protected codes to each of the polling wards and ensuring digital privacy of the results locked in the electronic voting machines could herald an unbiased and non-intrusive mode of casting one’s vote. Universal adult suffrage is the foundational principle of a healthy democracy and its values, including secrecy of the ballot, must be upheld by the authorities in charge of both the process of electioneering and those enabling law and order and justice.   

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