The Election Commission has warned MPs, who will vote in the August 7 vice-presidential poll, to maintain absolute secrecy about their choice of candidates, lest they lose their vote.

Vice-President and United Progressive Alliance nominee Mohammed Hamid Ansari and the National Democratic Alliance’s Jaswant Singh are in the fray.

In a communication to the Returning Officer, the EC has said Article 66(1) of the Constitution provides that the election be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.

If an elector refuses to abide by the rules on secrecy, his/her ballot will be taken back by the presiding officer, whether the vote has been recorded or not. If such an elector refuses to hand over the ballot and instead puts it in the ballot box, it will be identified with the help of the counterfoil during counting and segregated by the Returning Officer.The EC’s instruction has been issued in the context of the goof-up by Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, who demanded a second ballot during the July 19 presidential poll as he had by mistake cast his vote in favour of the NDA’s P.A. Sangma, instead of for UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee (now President), whom his party was supporting.

He tore the first ballot and handed it over to the Returning Officer. Later he was given a second ballot, in violation of rules, to cast his vote for Mr. Mukherjee.

However, his ballot was invalidated by the Commission.

Similarly, in Odisha, a suspended Biju Janata Dal MLA Prabhat Biswal (Cuttack-Chowdwar) displayed the ballot paper to the Presiding Officer. He was not allowed to drop the ballot in the box as he had violated the secrecy of vote and his ballot too was declared invalid.

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