Large number of ballot papers fail to reach returning officers 

BHOPAL: The controversy over postal ballots issued to government employees engaged on poll duty, again surfaced like the way it happened during the Assembly polls, as representatives of political parties questioned why postal ballots in a large number did not reach returning officers.

Quoting example of Bhopal constituency, they said, postal ballots did not reach the returning officer till about 20 days after the voting. Only 200 postal ballots, out of 2,500 issued by Bhopal returning officers, were submitted. Congress representative and PCC spokesman JP Dhanopia pointed out the issue in a meeting with CEO Jaideep Govind and additional CEO VL Kanthrao, seeking probe as to why these postal ballots were not submitted to far. “There must be some sort of unfair dealing going on,” he said.

Similar issue had cropped during Assembly polls, prompting the Election Commission to step up inquiry in Sehore district. Election officials said, number of postal ballots issued in Lok Sabha election was very less as compared to Assembly polls because majority of government employees on poll duty were given election duty certificate (EDC) and they cast vote at the same centre where they were on duty in EVMs.

The meeting was called to inform political parties about counting process.  The official said forms for appointing counting agents would be provided to candidates.  Sitting MPs, MLAs, ministers, mayors won’t be appointed counting agents. Entry of mobile phones in counting place would be restricted. Even policemen and employees would not be able to keep mobile phones there, barring senior police officers and collectors.

CEO Govind said counting of votes polled in EVMs would be made at 3,255 tables. Postal ballots will be counted on 56 tables only at headquarters of returning officers.Staff to be deputed on counting would be selected randomly 24 hours before the process starts.

First time, the EC has developed a software for providing real time update of counting and its link will be available at CEO’s website. Trends of voting will be uploaded just after announcement on the software. BSP leader Rajaram, BJP representative SH Lodha, community party leader Shailendra Shaily, CPI leader Subhash Chandra, PCC spokesman Vinit Godha and NCP representative Raju Bhatnagar were in the meeting.

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