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Is Election Commission Losing its Credibility due to mishaps in Polls?

In a bizarre incident that happened at a polling booth in Assam’s Dima Hasao district, a total of 171 votes were cast when only 90 people were eligible to vote.

The incident happened on 1st April, during the second phase of voting in Assam, and is viral on social media since then. It has once again brought to light, the irregularities and mismanagement by the Election Commission during an ongoing election, and has harmed its reputation.

According to an election official, the reason behind the extra voting that happened at booth 107(A) Khotlir LP School was because the head of the village refused to accept the voters’ list from the poll body and instead bought a list of his own. The villagers then voted according to that list, which led to an overvoting.

As the incident came to light, the District Election Officer ordered the suspension of five poll officials at the booth where this blunder happened, and also proposed a repoll.

Likewise, similar other incidents have occurred in the past where the Election Commission has to face the flak. In a recent incident that too happened in Assam, EVMs were found in the private vehicle of a BJP MLA from Patharkandi, Krishnendu Paul. What followed was violence and protest at the site where the polling party was spotted in the private vehicle, and a video of this incident went viral on social media. Many journalists re-tweeted the video and questioned the EC on the issue. The Election Commission then came up with a response to the whole incident and suspended the poll officials involved in the incident.

The Election Commission reports further stated that the poll officials had only taken a lift in the private car when their own car broke down and that they were not aware of its ownership. It was due to bad weather and “unprecedented traffic congestion” that the polling body got off from its convoy while returning to the strongroom, and when their car broke down, they decided to take a lift from the vehicle that was passing by rather than waiting for a replacement vehicle to be sent. The report also mentioned that the seals of the EVM’s were found intact, still, EC ordered a repoll in the respective booth.

Another similar instance occurred in West Bengal recently, where a poll officer took EVMs, VVPATs to TMC leader Gautam Ghosh’s house, who was apparently a relative of him and spent the night there. When the incident came to light, the Election Commission immediately suspended the Sector Officer-involved and took all the polling machinery under its custody. Seals of all the EVMs were intact and one of those machines, which was a reserved EVM, wouldn’t be used in the further electoral process, said the ECI, according to a report.

Incidents like these often come to light when huge election exercises take place in any part of the country. But the responsibility to maintain the sanity of the process in a democracy like ours lies on the independent Election Commission, and it must be vigilant and responsible. Such acts hinder the faith of the common citizen, hence, the EC reinstates the faith of the citizens in elections and democratic processes in India.

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