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Business News/ Politics / News/  'Could be exploited…': ECI opposes release of booth-wise voter turnout data, files affidavit in Supreme Court
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'Could be exploited…': ECI opposes release of booth-wise voter turnout data, files affidavit in Supreme Court

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has informed the Supreme Court that there is no legal requirement to disclose booth-wise votes polled during elections, as it could confuse voters and compromise ballot secrecy.

The Supreme Court of India (ANI) (HT_PRINT)Premium
The Supreme Court of India (ANI) (HT_PRINT)

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has informed the Supreme Court that there is no legal requirement to publish final authenticated voter turnout data in all polling stations. 

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the ECI stated that disclosing voter turnout data based on Form 17C, including postal ballot counts, could cause confusion among voters, Bar and Bench reported.

The ECI argued that in close electoral contests, the margin of victory could be very narrow, and public disclosure of Form 17C could lead to misunderstandings about the total votes polled. The ECI warned, according to Bar and Bench, that this confusion could be exploited by individuals with malicious intent to cast doubt on the entire electoral process and disrupt the election machinery.

Livemint could not independently verify this news development.

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking the disclosure of final authenticated voter turnout data, including the number of votes polled in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, within 48 hours of polling. The ECI also criticized ADR, alleging that certain "vested interests" were making false allegations to discredit its work.

The ECI further argued that ADR claimed a legal entitlement where none existed, especially during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The affidavit referenced the recent Supreme Court judgment on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), highlighting strictures against ADR and accusing the organization of spreading doubts and misinformation.

The application by ADR highlighted concerns over the substantial increase in final voter turnout announced by the ECI for the first two phases of the Lok Sabha elections compared to initial estimates. 

ADR sought directions for the ECI to upload scanned, legible copies of Form 17C Part-I (Account of Votes Recorded) on its website after each phase of polling, along with constituency and polling station-wise figures of voter turnout in absolute numbers and percentage form, as per the report.

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Published: 23 May 2024, 09:29 AM IST
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