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Election Commission must publish total no of voters, says ex-CEC Quraishi

He said that the EC’s action of not disclosing the number of voters cannot be justified on any grounds.

Screenshot 2024 05 06 091704NEW DELHI: As the Opposition parties and civil society up the ante on delay on the part of the Election Commission in publishing the data of the exact number of voters for the first two phases of the Lok Sabha polls, former Chief Election Commissioner of India Dr SY Quraishi said that it is imperative to release the data without any delay.

He further said that the EC’s action of not disclosing the number of voters cannot be justified on any grounds.

Though the EC released the final voter turnout figures for the first two phases of the Lok Sabha elections on April 30, it has still not published the total number of voters in each constituency. The announcement of the voter turnout came 11 days after the first phase polling on April 19, and four days after the second phase on April 26. According to the poll panel’s data, the voter turnout for the first phase of polling was 66.14 percent while the second phase registered 66.71 percent.

The former CEC said that the data should have been published within 24 hours of the polling, which has been the practice till 2014. “The non-disclosure of the number of voters by the EC is not unacceptable. It is important to have the absolute number of voters for transparency and the data should be released within 24 hours. Until 2014, it was the practice. However, problems started cropping up in 2019 and it has been discontinued now, “said Quraishi.

The EC withdrew the four-phase voter turnout data of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from their website after discrepancies were pointed out between voter turnout and the number of votes counted at least in 347 constituencies.

Jagdeep Chhokar, founder of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), said, “Voter percentages are meaningless unless the total number of voters is known. There is no conceivable reason for the EC not to publish the number of voters. How can they calculate percent unless they know the numbers? They took 11 days to publish the voter percentage.”

In 2019, ADR filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a probe into alleged discrepancies between voter turnout and the number of votes counted in 347 constituencies in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. “The EC put out clarification on their website that the confirmed figures are given several days after the declaration of results. Ideally, the EC should not declare results unless final figures are available,” he said.

Opposition parties including the Congress, CPI(M), and TMC questioned the ECI for not publishing the data on registered voters in each constituency and the constituency-wise voting percentage. Raising apprehensions of “manipulation of results”, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the total voter numbers can be altered at the time of counting. He added that the total number of voters in each constituency was available on the ECI website till 2014 and the commission must be transparent and put out this data.

“I’m talking of the absolute number of registered voters in each constituency, not the number of polled votes which will be known only after postal ballots are counted. Why is the total number of voters in each constituency not being put out?,” he added.

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