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EVMs to display images along with names, symbols

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Agartala: To ensure greater transparency and avoid confusion in the minds of voters, the Election Commission has decided that electronic voting machines (EVMs) would henceforth display images of the contestants along with their names and party symbols.elections-polls-evm-voting

The new system would be operational for the first time during the June 27 by elections to six assembly constituencies in five states – Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu and Tripura.

“Following a Supreme Court direction, the Election Commission has decided to display photos of the candidates besides their names and party symbols on the EVMs,” Election Commission Secretary K.N. Bhar told IANS. The images would be displayed between the party symbol and the candidate’s name.

“The new mode would be applicable from now onwards in all future elections to parliament and the state assemblies,” he added.

The official said that the new system would help voters easily identify the candidates of their choice, avoid confusion on candidates with namesakes and long lists of contestants.

“The new method would be applied for the first time in India during the by-elections to six assembly seats in five states,” Bhar added.

The by-polls would be held on June 27 in two assembly constituencies in Tripura and one constituency each in the other four states.

The poll panel has issued a notification to all Chief Electoral Officers and stake holders concerned, making the new system compulsory.

According to the EC notification, available with IANS, no uniforms would be allowed and caps and dark glasses have to be avoided in the candidates’ photographs.

The notification also said that the candidates are required to submit a photograph taken during the preceding period of three months before the date an election is notified.

The photograph should be of stamp size with a white or off-white background, with full face view directly facing the camera, a neutral facial expression and with eyes open. The photo may be in colour or black and white as may be convenient for the candidate.

“Following the directives of the Election Commission, we are arranging the new systems for the forthcoming by-elections in the state,” Tripura’s additional Chief Electoral Officer Debashish Modak told IANS.

“The commission considers that photographs of candidates (on the EVMs) will facilitate the electors in casting their votes and also the candidates in their campaign,” Bhar said, adding that the candidates’ photographs would also be printed on the postal ballots issued to the security personnel and officials engaged in the election process.

The Supreme Court judgement had come on a public suit filed by Delhi resident Ashok Gahlot.

“It would be a major boost for the Indian electorate that predominantly is illiterate and semi-literate often get confused with candidates having identical names in the fray. Political parties often field dummy candidates with a similar name to confuse the voters,” said Hiranmoy Chakraborty, who has considerable experience in the field. He was Tripura’s joint chief electoral officer and has worked closely with several chief election commissioners, including the high-profile T.N. Seshan.

“Sometimes candidates have been defeated because their votes had, supposedly due to confusion, gone to the dummy namesakes,” Chakraborty added.

“Although suitable suffixes are added to the names of candidates in the event or two or more candidates having same name, this new move would remove confusion in the minds of electors at the time of voting,” Chakraborty noted. (IANS)

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Supreme Court Gives EC Notice, Plea Challenging Jail Term For Questioning EVMs

Ahya contended that such a provision in election rules will act as a deterrent for voters experiencing faults in the EVMs from lodging a formal complaint. 

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"Deviant behaviour of the electronic machine should not go against the electorate and lodging a complaint is an essential ingredient in a continuous exercise for improving the electoral process," Ahya said. Pixabay

 The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Election Commission on a plea challenging the legal provision mandating six months jail for questioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

On a petition filed by Sunil Ahya, an SC bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi heard the arguments and issued the notice to the Election Commission.

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“This infringes upon a citizen’s right to freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India,” said the petition. Pixabay

According to Section 49 MA of the Code of Election Rules, if a person files a complaint regarding discrepancy in the EVM, and if after investigation it is found to be false or incorrect, then the complainant can be prosecuted under Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code for “furnishing false information”. This section invites “six months in jail or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both”.

Ahya contended that such a provision in election rules will act as a deterrent for voters experiencing faults in the EVMs from lodging a formal complaint.

Claiming that the provision was not fair and that it will discourage voters with genuine complaints from coming forward, the petitioner said, “This infringes upon a citizen’s right to freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India,” said the petition.

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“Deviant behaviour of the electronic machine should not go against the electorate and lodging a complaint is an essential ingredient in a continuous exercise for improving the electoral process,” Ahya said. Pixabay

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“Deviant behaviour of the electronic machine should not go against the electorate and lodging a complaint is an essential ingredient in a continuous exercise for improving the electoral process,” Ahya said.

The petitioner also included some suggestions to improve the overall electoral exercise. He said, “One of the possible ways to address the issue of reporting the aforesaid discrepancy in the future would be to keep the ballot unit lamp against the blue button of EVM glowing and at the same time, to let the VVPAT printed slip remain hanging in the transparent window without it being automatically cut after 7 seconds, unless and until the voter is completely satisfied and comes out of the polling booth.” (IANS)