EC releases absolute number of votes cast in first five phases of Lok Sabha polls

Votes polled in a constituency are already recorded in Form 17C and cannot be altered, says poll body; civil society organisations welcome release of data

Updated - May 27, 2024 07:54 am IST

Published - May 25, 2024 04:52 pm IST - New Delhi

Voters queue up to cast their ballots at a polling station during the fifth phase of voting in General Election, in Shahgund Bandipora district, North Kashmir on May 20, 2024.

Voters queue up to cast their ballots at a polling station during the fifth phase of voting in General Election, in Shahgund Bandipora district, North Kashmir on May 20, 2024. | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday released the absolute number of votes cast in each constituency in the first five phases of the general election. This is the first time that the EC has shared the total number of votes cast in this Lok Sabha election.

The commission came out with the data a day after the Supreme Court refused to direct the poll body to disclose details of Form 17 C, which contains voter turnout data at the booth level and is handed out to all the polling agents of the candidates, as had been demanded by the NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms, in its petition.

Also read:India General Elections LIVE updates, May 27, 2024

In an affidavit filed before the top court earlier this week, the commission had expressed concern that there was a “design, a pattern” that is at play in the petitioners’ approach.

‘False narratives’

In a statement on Saturday, the EC further reiterated this. “The commission notes the pattern of false narratives and mischievous design to vitiate electoral process,” it said, adding that any alteration in the number of the votes polled is not possible.

“The commission feels duly strengthened by the Supreme Court’s observations and verdict on the process of release of turnout data by the Election Commission of India. This brings upon the commission, a higher responsibility to serve the cause of electoral democracy with undeterred resolution,” the statement further said.

The poll panel asserted that the total number of votes polled in a constituency, as recorded in Form 17C, can never be changed even by anyone’s “hypothetical mischief”, as it is available to all the contesting candidates [agents].

However, The Hindu had spoken to a host of ground workers of political parties and civil society members last week, who had argued that it was not possible for all parties, specially, smaller ones and Independent candidates, to put up polling agents at each booth.

Civil society organisations that had petitioned the EC requesting release of the data welcomed the move.

“Big victory for peoples’ Right to Information! ECI releases voter turnout figures in absolute numbers. Important step by ECI, though this could have been done sooner. The demand to disclose Form 17C must continue as that is the only statutory authenticated record of voter turnout,” Anjali Bharadwaj, director of Common Cause, one of the petitioners, posted on X.

According to the data released by the EC on Saturday, the highest number of votes were cast in Dhubri constituency in Assam (24.5 lakh), while the least votes were polled in Lakshadweep (48,630).

The first phase polled 11,00,52,103 votes (of a total 16,63,86,344 registered voters), the second phase 10,58,30,572 votes (out of 15,86,45,484), the third 11,32,34,676 (out of 17,24,04,907), fourth 12,24,69,319 (out of 17,70,75,629), and fifth phase recorded 5,57,10,618 votes (out of 8,95,67,973).

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