2024 Lok Sabha Elections: ECI adds 1 crore voters in revised tally in first phase of polling

The delay in releasing the voter turnout data can be the first time since the time EVMs were first introduced in 1998

By Kedar Nadella  Published on  20 May 2024 3:30 AM GMT
2024 Lok Sabha Elections: ECI adds Rs 1 crore voters in revised tally in first phase of polling

Hyderabad: Regarding the data on the voter turnout in the first phase of the 2024 General Elections held on April 19, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has added 1 crore voters to its original tally, which has not been done during the previous elections.

So, where did one crore extra voters come from? This question has been making rounds on social media following the analysis of the voter turnout done by an X user Raju Parulekar, a political analyst as per his profile.

During the ensuing elections, the ECI has come under fire from various sections of society for the delay in releasing the data and also for withholding absolute numbers and instead releasing data in percentages.

The delay in releasing the voter turnout data can be the first time since the time EVMs were first introduced in 1998. For this article, we will be analysing the data released by the ECI for the first phase of elections.

Timeline of release of data

The first set of data on the voter turnout for the first phase was released by the ECI on April 19 – the day of the first phase of polling – as per protocol. However, it was only in percentages. This is significantly different from the voter turnout data the ECI released for the first phase of elections in 2019.

In the 2019 data, ECI released absolute numbers in total categorised into total number of voters, number of women, men and third gender voters and number of polling booths. All that data was missing from the April 19, 2024 ECI release.

There were also considerable differences in voter turnout numbers as mentioned earlier. While the percentage released on April 19 was at 60 per cent (till 7 pm), the total percentage released on April 30 (11 days later) was 66.14 per cent. While it is normal to see a difference up to a small degree, the difference here was too large and unusual.

However, the actual increase in data was only revealed once ECI released the absolute figures on May 7 – 19 days after the first phase of elections.

More than Rs 1 crore voters added to April 19 tally

According to the ECI data with NewsMeter, 21 States and Union Territories went to polls in the first phase of General Elections on April 19 – a total of 102 Parliamentary Constituencies.

According to the analysis done by Raju, calculating the absolute figures of the number of electors per state and UT released on May 7 with the increase in the percentage of voter turnout released on April 30 (minus service electors), one can see that the increase in the voter turnout for all 102 PCs is 1,01,67,761 voters, which is a considerable increase and raises more questions than it answers.

Hence, many have asked for the release of Form 17C which will reveal the number of voters from the ground at each polling booth.

What is Form 17C?

The Supreme Court on Friday sought ECI’s response to a case filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) asking for the reasons for the jump in voter turnout figures in the first and second phases of polling, and the delay caused in the release of data.

During the hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan also asked the Supreme Court to order to ECI to release the data in Form 17C which contains actual figures of voting that the ECI needs to release to the public.

“My request to all polling agents of political parties: Rule 49(S) of the Conduct of Election rules requires the Polling officer of each polling booth to record the number of votes cast in each EVM, & provide these figures in a signed document Form 17(C) to the polling agents of parties. Since the EC is refusing to disclose the recorded figures & is arbitrarily revising polling data many days later, the polling agents of parties must take the figures from the polling officers & the parties must upload these on their website,” wrote Prashant Bhushan on X account.

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