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Election Commission gives absolute polling numbers day after SC refuses to step in

NEW DELHI: A day after Supreme Court declined to direct Election Commission to publish booth-wise elector data as recorded in Form 17C , the poll panel released the absolute number of eligible voters and votes cast across parliamentary constituencies in the first five phases, to set at rest "false narratives" about a "delay" in release of voter turnout data .

Of over 76.3 crore eligible voters in the first five phases of the Lok Sabha polls, as many as 50.7 crore people have cast their vote, according to data shared by EC Saturday.

The revision in format of release of turnout data came even as Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar questioned the trend of repeated raising of "unfounded doubts" on the electoral processes. "First, questions are raised about purity of the electoral roll, then attempts are made to discredit EVMs. Amid polling, doubts are cast over turnout data," he underlined while speaking with TOI after completion of the penultimate phase of polling. Stating that the electoral processes, design and systems are well-settled and earnestly followed election after election, the CEC said polls conducted in around 22-23 states since the 2019 general election have followed the very same processes. "Pattern in raising suspicion without concrete examples only when a general election to the Lok Sabha is under way must be studied," he told TOI.

Describing the grievance redressal system of EC as "very robust", Kumar said: "If there is indeed a mistake or failure, it must be pointed out. Planting unfounded doubts in the minds of voters as regards the electoral processes may adversely impact turnouts."

Total votes polled in seat can’t be changed even by mischief: EC

EC on Saturday reiterated that complete elector data is available with the authorised agents of all candidates as part of Form 17C, a copy of which is shared with them after polling. "With approximately 10.5 lakh polling stations across the country, almost 40 lakh agents (assuming 3-4 agents per polling station) and around 8,000 candidates get all turnout data by way of Form 17C," said an EC official. Thus, the total number of votes polled in a constituency, as recorded in Form 17C can never be changed even by anyone's hypothetical mischief, it asserted.

Asked why the absolute elector data was released only after five phases, Kumar said EC was awaiting the Supreme Court verdict in the relevant case. "But the fact is that the polling data was always available, even as it was being updated, via the EC Voter Turnout app. Even a Class 6 student can calculate the absolute number of votes cast with the polling percentage and the total number of electors in a constituency released by the commission," he said. As per the electors data, around 11 crore of the total 16.6 crore electors voted in Phase 1 (66.1 per cent), 10.6 crore of a total 15.9 crore electors (66.7 per cent) in Phase 2, 11.3 crore of 17.2 crore (65.7 per cent) in Phase 3, 12.2 crore of 17.7 crore (69.2 per cent) in Phase 4 and 5.6 crore of 8.9 crore electors (62.2 per cent) in Phase 5.

The commission reiterated that there was no delay in the release of voter turnout data, which, it said, is updated on a two-hourly basis till 1730 hours on polling day. By midnight, the app shows best estimated 'close of poll' data in percentage form. Data attains finality on second, third or fourth day of polling depending on time of arrival of polling parties and repolls.