At last, the Telangana State Election Commission has decided to conduct the ensuing GHMC Elections and other leftover ULBs with Ballot Boxes and Ballot paper after detailed deliberations with various political parties regarding the conduct of the elections.
According to a press released here today, the state Election Commissioner said the decision had been taken in view of the prevailing covid pandemic, it is informed that a meeting was held by the SEC with the GHMC commissioner, to discuss whether to conduct elections with Ballot boxes or EVMs. It was decided in the meeting to obtain the opinion of the political parties. Accordingly, political parties were requested to convey their opinion.
The following are the details of the opinion of the political parties received
|Sl. No||Category of Parties||Total Parties||Replies Received||In favour of EVMs||In favour of Ballot Boxes||Not given definite opinion|
|1||Recognized Political Parties||11||8||1||5||2|
|2||Registered political parties without a reserved symbol||39||18||2||11||5|
The majority of the political parties conveyed their opinion to conduct GHMC Elections with Ballot Boxes only.
Further, a number of stages are involved before the use of EVMs & VVPATs in Polling Stations, namely, First Level Checking, Second Level checking, Randomization and Commissioning of EVMs. In all the stages, a huge number of Engineers deputed by manufacturers, representatives of political parties, election staff are involved. A huge number of unskilled labour will be deployed for cleaning, unpacking and packing EVMs and VVPATs in a closed environment. During the COVID-19 Pandemic situation, it is felt that conduct of the above activities involve high risk of Community spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), when compared to the use of Ballot Boxes.
Few facts about Ballot boxes and EVMs
In 1989, the Parliament amended the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to create a provision for the use of EVMs in the elections. Only in May 2001, in assembly elections of the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and West Bengal, the EVMs were used in all the Assembly Constituencies. In previous elections, EVMs were used only in few Assembly Constituencies. After 2001, for every State Assembly election, the Commission has used the EVMs. In 2004, in the General Election to the Lok Sabha, the EVMs (more than one million) were used in all 543 Parliamentary Constituencies in the country.
- All ordinary elections to Rural Local Bodies since 1995 to 2019 were conducted with ballot boxes.
- Regarding Urban Local Bodies, the first 2 ordinary elections held in 1995 and 2000 were conducted with Ballot boxes. In 2005 (loaned from ECI) and in 2014 (SEC – EVMs), the ULB elections were conducted with EVMs without VVPATs.
- Regarding GHMC Elections, the first ordinary elections to GHMC, 2002 were conducted with Ballot boxes. In 2009 and 2016 elections were conducted with EVMs without VVPATs.
- The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in Civil Appeal no. 9093 of 2013, gave judgment for implementation of VVPAT system in a phased manner and directed the Government of India to provide financial assistance to ECI for procurement of VVPATs.
- Further, on August 9th, 2017, Supreme Court of India, while deciding the bunch of petitions on 100% use of VVPAT, observed based on the counter affidavit filed by the ECI, duly supported by Government of India as follows:
“It is apparent that the Government of India has sanctioned the funds for the purchase of VVPATs need during the course of elections, which are to take place in the immediate future. The position expressed leaves no room for any doubt that all future elections will be held by using VVPAT”, said the Election Commissioner.
- As State Election Commission is not having VVPATs, the Commission requested the ECIL, Hyderabad and the BEL, Bangalore to send quotations for procurement of VVPATs. The ECIL and BEL have informed that to manufacture VVPATs, the permission of ECI, Delhi is required. They wrote a letter to the ECI for permission to manufacture VVPATs for TSEC. The reply from the ECI is awaited.
- As VVPATs were not available, the SEC conducted the recent Gram Panchayat elections. The MPTC/ZPTC Elections held in 2019 and also ULB elections held in 2020 were conducted with Ballot Boxes.