ghost voters

New Delhi: The Election Commission Saturday described the reports about “ghost voters” in the Lok Sabha polls as incorrect, saying the claims were based on provisional turnout data uploaded on its website.

“The provisional voter turnout data reported on the ECI website is only the tentative number of voters and not the final numbers. Therefore, it is an incorrect inference to find ghost voters when there are none,” according to a statement issued by the Commission.

The poll panel reacted days after a section of the media reported that there was a discrepancy in the total turnout and the actual number of electors in some states.

Responding to the reports, the EC said two categories of votes are counted to arrive at the final result — those polled in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and those that are collected through postal ballots from service voters and also from the personnel deployed for poll duties outside their constituencies.

“The provisional voter turnout data is displayed as percentage figure on the Election Commission of India website and Voter Helpline mobile app on the poll day as uploaded by the Returning Officer/Assistant Returning Officer based on the approximate percentage turnout figures obtained from sector magistrates, who in-turn get it periodically over phone/in person from about 10 presiding officers,” the Commission said.

After scrutiny of documents by the Returning Officer, the provisional number of general voters’ turnout is compiled and uploaded on the ECI website based on the polling station wise tentative turnout data reported by the presiding officers. “All these figures are provisional, based on estimates which are subject to change as is made clear from the disclaimer on the website,” it said.

The postal ballot count is added to the EVM general voters’ count to give the final votes polled in every parliamentary constituency and the winning candidate is given return certificate in form 21E by the returning officers.

Based on both the EVM votes and postal ballots, the returning officer prepares Form 21E and Index Card in which the break-up of voter turnout, including tendered votes for the constituency, is tallied to get the final voter turnout for each constituency.

Since the index card takes months to prepare, the commission said it had directed all the Returning Officers on March 26, 2019, to send the Index Cards within 15 days of the declaration of the result.

The commission said reconciliation of voters’ data for all parliamentary constituencies have been completed in all the states and the Index Forms of all 542 parliamentary constituencies are expected to reach the ECI from Returning Officers shortly.