New Delhi, Jan 21: The Election Commission has asked the government to amend electoral rules to allow it to introduce a new device to enhance secrecy of votes during counting which prevents disclosure of voting pattern.
As per existing rules, votes in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) are to be counted polling station-wise, which leads to situations where voting patterns in various localities or pockets become known to everyone. There is a view within the Commission that this can result in victimisation, discrimination and intimidation of electors.
To address the issue, government undertakings Electronic Corporation of India Ltd and Bharat Electronics Ltd -- the manufacturers of EVMs -- had developed a device called 'totaliser' which can be used for taking out the results of voting in a group of 14 EVMs without revealing the votes in individual EVMs. The device was manufactured nearly a decade ago but it is yet to be used pending approval of the government.
At a meeting between Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and top Law Ministry officials held on January 5, the Commission urged the government to amend the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 to allow for the usage of totaliser. The poll panel is of the view that by using totaliser, a further level of secrecy in voting and the mixing of votes at the time of counting will be achieved.
The Law Ministry is the administrative ministry for the poll body. But the government has not taken a considered view on introduction of the machine.
The Law Commission, in its report on electoral reforms submitted to the government in March last year, had also supported the use of the new machine. It had recommended amendment to the Conduct of Election Rules to give EC powers to use totaliser for mixing of votes where it apprehends intimidation and victimisation of electors in any constituency.