Counting through VVPAT slips at 144 polling booths

BHOPAL: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has ordered counting of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips at 144 polling booths in Madhya Pradesh a day ahead of counting of votes. All these booths failed to follow ‘Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)’ and forgot to CRC (Close-Result- Clear) of EVMs after mock polls.

The chief electoral office (CEO) VL Kantha Rao had written to the ECI on December 7, nine days after polling took place in the state regarding the issue. Opposition party Congress has raised objections in the issue alleging foul play seeking action. The poll officers, returning officers, district election officer and observers deputed at 144 booths spread in 21 districts are now under scanner of the commission. According to sources poll officers of the districts did not inform the CEO first hand and the CEO office had to go through the scrutiny documents to identify the lapse and then question local authorities only after which the whole lapse was revealed.

It was found that the count of mock poll, a mandatory process held before the voting, was not cleared from the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in the 144 polling centers. As per SOP the poll officers are mandated to clear the count of EVM’s by performing the ‘close-resultclear’ process in the EVM. Since the EVM’s were not cleared of the mock poll count, the original count of real polling advanced from the existing uncleared stack of the EVM.

As the incident was reported to ECI, the commission on Monday ordered “At all 144 polling centers where close-resultclear was not performed the counting will be done through printed slips of VVPATs used in real voting.” CEO Rao said instructions were received from ECI and actions will be taken against officials as per rules.

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