PIL plea wants voting via EVMs for those on poll duty

‘It will avoid difficulties in casting votes, ensure high polling percentage’

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered notice to the Election Commission of India on a public interest litigation petition that sought to do away with voting via postal ballot for those on election duty. The electronic voting machines (EVMs) must be used instead, the petitioner said.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice M.M. Sundresh ordered the notice on the PIL petition filed by S. Pandidurai, a schoolteacher from Theni district. The petitioner said it must be ensured that there was cent per cent voting via the EVMs even for those on election duty.

The petitioner, district secretary of Tamil Nadu Graduate Teachers Association – Theni district, said teachers, clerical staff, government officials and ex-servicemen acted as polling personnel during general elections. They faced a lot of problems in exercising their Right to Vote, guaranteed under the Constitution, through the postal ballot.

He said the Rules 17 – 20 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, provided that voters on election duty were entitled to vote by post. The Report on General Elections to Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, 2011, stated that the total persons for polling duty were 3,07,174, but only 1,06,094 of the votes were valid.

In the case of votes cast through the EVMs, out of 3,67,56,813 votes valid votes numbered 3,67,39,276 (99.5%). Similarly in the 2016 elections, out of the 4,29,04,285 votes, 4,29,00,661 were valid (99.99%), he said.

He pointed out that voting via the postal ballot involved various difficulties. The person on election duty had to apply for the postal ballot paper, then submit it to the returning officer. After it was ensured that the details were filled up, the person would again obtain the ballot paper and cast the vote.

After the vote was cast by ticking the symbol of his or her choice the ballot paper would be put in a separate cover accompanied by a declaration and attestation. The cover had to be sent through post to the returning officer. Therefore, instead of using the postal ballot method, the EVMs could be used for those on poll duty, he said.

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