Process of Declaring Voters Turnouts

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in News?
  • What is the Process of Declaring Voters Turnouts?
  • What are the Allegations by the Congress President?
  • What is the Response of ECI to these Allegations?
  • What is Form 17C?

 Why in News?

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) categorically denied claims by Congress president that the delay in the release of final voter turnouts was an attempt to tamper with the final results of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

What is the Process of Declaring Voters Turnouts?

  • Voter turnout is a module of ENCORE (Enabling Communications on Real-time Environment) that runs on the poll day.
  • It involves the data entry of a two hourly estimated poll percentage through ENCORE.
    • ENCORE is an umbrella application of the ECI that provides the facility to process and monitor the work related to conduct of elections through a single portal.
    • The ENCORE Portal can be accessed by all officers at ECI, State, District and Constituency level.
  • All these entries need to be filled without fail in a designated time slot (i.e., 9 AM, 11AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, 5 PM and 7 PM) by the Returning Officer (RO)/ Assistant Returning Officers(AROs) in the ENCORE Portal.
  • This voter turnout data can be monitored by the citizens and media houses via Voter Turnout app which is available in android and iOS both.
  • These percentages get aggregated in the system to find the district and state wise poll percentage.
  • After the end of the Poll, System allows entry of detailed turnout reports - Constituency wise and Polling Station wise, which include male, female, and third gender numbers against the total number of electors.
  • This mechanism simplifies the data entry of two-hourly voter turnout and helps in the timely dissemination of the information on a real-time basis.
  • To ensure timely entries for each Constituency, a facility is provided at the CEO level to monitor and identify the assembly that has missed the data entry.

What are the Allegations by the Congress President?

  • When the final voting figures for the 1st and 2nd phases were announced on April 30, he questioned why the turnout for these phases increased by 5.5 and 5.74 percentage points respectively since the close of polling.
  • In an official release issued (at 7.55 pm) on April 19, the ECI said turnout in the constituencies where votes were cast in the first phase was over 60% at 7pm.
    • The release said the final figure was likely to be higher.
  • On April 26, when votes were cast in the second phase, the ECI press release (issued at 9 pm) put the turnout at 60.96% at 7 pm.
  • On April 30, the ECI released the final figures for both phases, which put the phase 1 turnout at 66.14% and the phase 2 turnout at 66.71%.

What is the Response of ECI to these Allegations?

  • The initial number is a preliminary estimate, and the higher final figure is simply due to the fact that the ROs sent in the updated data late.
  • According to the ECI officials, even the data released on April 30 is not final and that figure will be known only after postal ballots are counted on the day of counting (June 4).
  • Final data for each Polling Station (PS) is shared in Form 17C with all Polling Agents.
    • Form 17C includes the total numbers of electors and voters at the seat.
    • This information is not available on the Voter Turnout app.
  • In its response to allegations, the ECI also provided details of the release of official turnout data for the 2019 Lok Sabha election and state Assembly elections.
    • It showed a 1-3 percentage point increase in the turnouts in the 5-7 days it took to release the phase-wise turnouts in 2019.
  • ECI officials say it takes time to verify and collate the data, particularly from remote polling stations.
    • This process takes P+1 (polling day plus 1) or P+2 (polling day plus 2) days depending on constituencies and arrival schedule of polling parties due to geographical and weather conditions.
    • This data may further get updated for any constituency where repoll is being conducted (which is normally on P+4 days).

What is Form 17C?

  • According to the Conduct of Elections Rules 1961, there are two forms that have data on the number of electors and voters - Forms 17A and 17C.
  • The Form 17A is a register of voters, in which polling officials record the details of every voter who comes into the booth and signs the register.
  • The Form 17C is the account of the votes recorded and is issued to the polling agents of candidates at the close of polling.
    • The number of electors and those who cast their votes as recorded in Form 17C can be matched with the EVM count.
    • Part-II of the form (certified by the counting supervisor and is countersigned by all candidates or their representatives)carries the results of the counting, which are entered on counting day.
  • The data in Form 17C are considered final, and it
    • Is used by candidates to verify the results on counting day.
    • Lie at the heart of any Election Petition that may be filed challenging the result.
  • For full transparency, activists have demanded to make the Form 17C data public.
    • This is because many candidates find it impossible to collate all the figures for the constituency as a whole.
    • However, the ECI has said that it is not legally bound to publish any voter turnout data at aggregate level.

Source: Poll panel hits back at Kharge, says can have ‘negative impact’ on voters | IE | ECI