Source: 
Live mint
https://www.livemint.com/elections/sc-seeks-ec-response-over-mismatch-in-voting-percentage-in-lok-sabha-elections-phase-1-and-2-11715959574511.html
Author: 
Livemint
Date: 
17.05.2024
City: 

The counsel appearing for the Election Commission argued that the real-time voter turnout figures given by the Voter Turnout App are tentative because it is being updated on a realtime basis. “So any mismatch with the App Data and Form 17C data is not material,” he said.

The Supreme Court sought a response from the Election Commission within a week over an application that alleging a mismatch in voting percentage data of the first two phases of the Lok Sabha polls. The court will hear the matter on May 24, before the sixth phase of voting.

What the difficulty was in putting it up [the voter turn out details or Form 17] on the website," a Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra asked the ECI counsel, Amit Sharma, according to Bar and Bench.

The ECI counsel replied, “It takes time. We have to collect a lot of data" and that it can't be done overnight.

"The polling officer of every polling booth submits Form 17C to the Returning Officer?" asked the CJI. Sharma said that it is not immediately done and takes some time and won't reach the same day. "Alright. It reaches the second day. Now why don't you upload it? We will give you reasonable time," the CJI was quoted by Live Law as saying.

The counsel appearing for the ECI said that the Returning Officer has to go through every data so that there won't be any mismatch. The ECI further argued that the real-time voter turnout figures given by the Voter Turnout App are tentative because it is being updated on a realtime basis. "So any mismatch with the App Data and Form 17C data is not material," he said.

Meanwhile, the petitioner's counsel said that there are concerns about the rise in the final voting percentage figures disclosed by the ECI. "Citizens are aggrieved. Because they feel whether EVMs are being replaced. Suddenly there is a rise of 6 percent," the petitioner's lawyer submitted.

According to ANI, the NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms, had pointed out in its plea that the data published in the press release by the ECI on April 30, (Phase I voter turnout – 66.14 percent and Phase II voter turnout – 66.71 percent), when compared with the initial data of April 19, and April 26, respectively, showed an increase of nearly 6 percent in the Phase I data and an increase of approximately 5.75 percent in the Phase II data.

What the application says?

The application, jointly filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms and Common Cause, sought directions to the ECI to upload on its website the scanned copies of Form 17-C (which records the number of votes polled in a booth) soon after the elections, Live Law reported.

The petitioners said that in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, the voter turnout data regarding the first phase of polling held on April 19 was published after 11 days and the second phase of polling held on April 26 was published after 4 days. 

It said that the data published by the ECI in its April 30 press release showed a sharp increase (by about 5-6 percent) from the initial percentages announced by it on the polling day.

It also sought a direction that the ECI should disclose the absolute numbers of the voter turnout immediately after each phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

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