Ballot Papers for GHMC polls: SEC

Only Ballot Papers For GHMC Polls, No EVMs

Hyderabad: It will be ballot papers and not Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the forthcoming Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections.

Ending speculation over the use of EVMs for the polls, the State Election Commission (SEC) here decided to hold the elections with paper ballots and ballot boxes.

Considering the prevailing pandemic, apart from GHMC, ballot boxes will be utilised for conducting other urban local body elections as well. The SEC took this decision after detailed deliberations, the time available and also considering views and opinions expressed by political parties.

According to a press release, a meeting was conducted by the SEC with GHMC Commissioner D S Lokesh Kumar to discuss how to conduct the elections, during which views and opinions of political parties were also taken. A majority of the political parties were in favour of conducting the GHMC elections with ballot boxes.

As many as 50 parties, including 39 registered parties without reserved symbols, participated in the meeting. Of these, 26 parties gave their replies. Three of them favoured EVMs while 16 opted for use of ballot boxes. Seven parties did not give a definite opinion.

Officials pointed out that there were many stages involved before the use of EVMs & VVPATs in polling stations, including First Level Checking, Second Level checking, randomization and commissioning of EVMs. In all these stages, engineers will have to be deputed by manufacturers, besides many representatives of political parties and election staff members being involved. Unskilled labour would have to be deployed for cleaning, unpacking and packing the EVMs and VVPATs in a closed environment. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, these activities would involve a high risk of community spread of the virus, when compared to the use of ballot boxes.

All the ordinary elections to Rural Local Bodies from 1995 to 2019 were conducted with ballot boxes and regarding Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), the first two ordinary elections held in 1995 and 2000 were conducted with ballot boxes. In 2005 (loaned from ECI) and in 2014 (SEC – EVMs), the ULB elections were conducted with EVMs but without VVPATs.

As for the GHMC elections, the first ordinary elections to GHMC in 2002 were conducted with ballot boxes. In 2009 and 2016, the elections were conducted with EVMs without VVPATs.

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