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Govt rejects EC proposal for machine to hide voting pattern

There has been a lively debate in political circles on whether booth-wise results and voting trends should be made public. This information would help parties in booth management and plan poll strategies, some argued. The Election Commission, on the other hand, felt that this information could be used by ruling parties to punish voters that had gone against them.

In short making voting trends, public would mean fears of a backlash on certain pockets, and largesse being bestowed on those who voted in favour of the winning party.

Putting this debate to rest, the government has shot down an Election Commission proposal for the introduction of a machine to prevent disclosure of voting pattern during counting.

Major political parties remained divided on the introduction of the machine which will enhance secrecy by preventing disclosure of booth-wise results.
A team of ministers, headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, has decided against the introduction of 'totaliser' and it has been conveyed to Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi by the Law Ministry.The exact reason for rejecting the proposal was not known immediately.

The five-member team was set up on the direction of the Prime Minister's Office to recommend to the Union Cabinet whether the machine can be used.
The machine is connected to the control units of EVMs after polling and it gives out an overall result. It does not disclose results booth-wise, thus preventing parties from knowing which area voted against them.

Earlier when electronic voting machines were not in use, ballot papers from different booths were 'hand mixed' before the counting to conceal voting pattern. Major political parties were split on the introduction of the machine.

According to the Election Commission, the Congress, the NCP and the BSP "categorically" supported its proposal to use 'totaliser' machines, while the ruling BJP was of the view that booth-wise performance is important for parties in their booth management.

"The CPI(M) agreed in principle to the proposal with the rider that we should be careful regarding the fool-proof functioning of the totaliser and that it may be tried out in phases," the Commission had told the Law Ministry.

Referring to a meeting of recognised national and state parties convened by it in March last to discuss electoral reforms, including the use of totalisers, the Commission informed the Ministry that the CPI did not give any specific view on the use of the new machine.

While AAP -- Delhi's only recognised state party - has supported the introduction of totaliser, Trinamool Congress, which was accorded the national party status recently, opposed its introduction.
M Post Bureau

M Post Bureau

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