Monday, June 17, 2024
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Disclosure of voter turnout data based on Form 17C will cause confusion among voters: ECI to SC

The Election Commission of India (ECI) filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, arguing that disclosing voter turnout data based on Form 17C, which includes records of votes polled at each polling station, could confuse voters. The ECI highlighted that this data would also encompass postal ballot counts, potentially misleading the public.

Concerns over data manipulation
The ECI expressed concerns that uploading Form 17C on the website might lead to images being morphed, creating “widespread discomfort and mistrust.” The affidavit emphasised that in closely contested elections, disclosing this form could cause confusion about the total votes polled, as the data would include both in-person votes and postal ballots. The commission warned that this could be exploited by individuals with ulterior motives to discredit the electoral process and disrupt the ongoing election machinery.

Legal standpoint and rules compliance
The ECI stated that there is no legal mandate to publish final authenticated voter turnout data for all polling stations. According to the rules, Form 17C is to be provided only to polling agents and not disclosed publicly. The affidavit was submitted in response to an application by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which sought the disclosure of voter turnout data within 48 hours of polling.

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