Human glitches mar poll process in phase-2; CEO recommends repoll at 6 booths

..... Cross pairing of EVMs led to malfunctioning in the phase-2 which recorded 64% polling till 5PM

Bhubaneswar: As human errors played havoc in around six booths in three Lok Sabha(LS) constituencies during the second phase polling in Odisha, the total voter turnout witnessed in the State till 5 PM was around 64 per cent. The polling percentage in 2014 in the same constituencies was around 72.5 per cent.

The polling figures are tentative and the final figures will be announced tomorrow, said CEO Surendra Kumar. It is believed that the final poll count could touch around 71 per cent as the turnout will have a bearing on the final poll outcome in the State. Fate of high profile candidates like CM Naveen Patnaik, Union Minister Jual Oram, veterans like Kharabela Swain and Prasanna Acharya are sealed today.

However, the second phase polling has been largely peaceful, despite the Phiringia incident where a polling official was shot dead by Maoists yesterday, said Kumar.

What has been nagging for the EC is human error in replacing the EVM or VVPAT machines had led to malfunctioning of the voting machines in six booths of Sundergarh, Nayagarh and Bargarh Lok Sabha constituencies, respectively. As of now, EC is mulling to announce repolling in as many as six booths covering three LS constituencies soon. But EC is looking into the reasons behind the cases of frequent human errors, despite having clear colour codes of pink and white for LS and ACs, respectively.

As per the information given by CEO Surendra Kumar,  polling in a booth each in Bonai and Sundergarh Assembly Constituencies under the Sundergarh LS, two booths in Daspalla constituency under the Kandhamal LS and two booths in Bargarh LS constituencies were suspended and a re-polling will be ordered soon.

“Polling in booth number 129 in Bonai AC and 213 in Sundergarh AC  has been countermanded. Also, voting in two booths – 210 and 222 – in Daspalla assembly constituency has been adjourned. Similar reports about suspension of polling received from booth number 68 in Bargarh AC and booth number 235 in Attabira AC. The EC will order a repoll in all the booths soon. The EC has taken this step under section 50( A) (B) of the Representation of People Act to ensure free and fair poll and stop vitiation of the polling process,” said Kumar.

The CEO has clarified that polling has been countermanded for human glitches, not technical snags developed in EVM or VVPAT. The anomaly in polling process has developed due to cross pairing of EVMs and VVPATs. Though the polling officials have been given adequate training, still the faulty replacement of voting machines was done and the EC will initiate actions against errant officials for dereliction of duty, informed Kumar.

“Post development of technical errors in EVM, the polling officials have gone for replacement and after commencement of polls, a voter complained of votes being not transferred to the desired candidate. So, under rule 49 MA, in presence of presiding officer and polling agents voting was done and it was detected that vote didn’t transfer to desired candidates. The officials conducted a checking and found that the error happened owing to cross pairing of machines, which means EVMs meant for LS assembly segment were used in Assembly Constituency and vice versa. The Presiding Officer then ordered for halting of the poll process,” explained Kumar.