Election Commission Explains Delay in Voter Data Release

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

New Delhi: The ongoing Lok Sabha elections have witnessed five phases of voting, with two more phases remaining. As the political heat intensifies, the Election Commission (EC) has faced scrutiny over the timing of releasing voting data. On Wednesday, the EC addressed the Supreme Court, shedding light on the reasons behind the delay.

Anarchy Concerns and Form 17C Details

The EC informed the Supreme Court that releasing polling station-wise data would lead to anarchy. Specifically, the details of Form 17C, which shows the number of votes cast in each polling booth, cannot be made public. The fear is that indiscriminate disclosure of voting percentage data, posted on the website, could disrupt the electoral machinery already busy with the ongoing elections.

Rebuttal of Allegations

Responding to allegations, the EC rejected claims that the figures released on polling day for the first two phases were inaccurate by 5-6%. An increase in voter turnout was observed, as indicated in an affidavit filed in response to a petition by an NGO. The petitioner had requested the EC to upload polling station-wise data within 48 hours of the conclusion of voting for each Lok Sabha phase.

Comparing with 2019 Elections

The EC emphasized that accepting the petitioner’s request would not only be legally problematic but also create chaos in the election machinery. Drawing from the 2019 elections, the EC pointed out that even then, there was a 2 to 3 percent difference in voting figures. To provide context, the EC released complete data from the 2019 elections.

Election Commission

Petitioner Identity and Transparency

The petitioner, the Association for Democratic Reforms, has raised concerns about voter confusion. The EC clarified that actual voting figures undergo various verifications and may change. Form 17C, given to each candidate’s agent on voting day, cannot be publicly posted on the website due to the risk of misuse. The Supreme Court, during a hearing on May 17, requested the EC to file its reply.