SC seeks EC reply on use of totaliser for counting of votes

The Supreme Court today sought the Election Commission's respone on a plea seeking counting of votes using totaliser machines instead of booth-wise counting.

The Centre said it is not opposed to any kind of electoral reforms, but the counting of votes using totaliser machines will result in an inevitable flow of information from electronic voting machines.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked the EC to reply to a batch of pleas seeking a new method for counting of votes claiming that booth-wise counting results in discrimination.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh said there is no mechanism suggested by the petitioners and the EC should file a reply.

"The Centre is not averse to any kind of electoral reforms which improve the process, but the mechanism should be clear. Even during the paper ballot days, the returning officer used to count the votes by mixing all the papers in case of any apprehension," he said.

Singh said that even various political parties at a meeting had said they want booth-wise counting of votes.

The bench, then asked the counsel for the Election Commission to file its reply in one week and counter to be filed in one week thereafter.

It posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

A totaliser is a device which allows votes cast in about 14 polling booths to be counted together.

On February 12, the apex court had asked the EC to file a reply within two weeks on a plea seeking direction for common electoral rolls for Parliament, assembly and local body polls to save public money and manpower.

It had sought the assistance of Attorney General K K Venugopal to assist the court in the matter.

The apex court had on October 13 last year sought the response of the Centre and the Election Commission on the plea, filed by Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

The petition has also sought direction to the authorities to take steps to use 'totaliser' for counting of votes.

It had referred to the provisions of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, under which votes in the EVMs are to be counted polling station-wise, and said this led to situations where voting pattern in various localities or pockets become known to everyone.

The petitioner has also proposed that post offices be used as the nodal agency for voter registration and verification, saying it will not only help overcome the issue of duplication and confusion but also save huge public money and manpower.

The plea sought that elections be held on a Sunday, like in several other countries, to enable maximum voter turnout.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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