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Report No. 255

Chapter XIII

Totaliser for Counting of Votes

13.1. In 2008, the ECI vide letter dated 21.11.2008 to the Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice, recommended amending the Election Rules to provide for the use of a totaliser for the counting of votes recorded in EVMs at elections. As per the ECI's suggestion, the results of votes polled in a group of 14 EVMs (hence, in 14 polling stations) would be calculated and announced together, in a change from the current practice of counting votes by each polling station.539 This is based on technological constraints.

539. ECI Important Electoral Reforms, supra note 497, at 5

13.2. The underlying rationale behind the ECI's proposal was that the current system revealed the voting trends in each polling station, thus leaving the voters in that vicinity open to harassment, intimidation and post-election victimisation. Prior to the introduction of EVMs, ballot papers could be mixed, wherever it was considered "absolutely necessary" under Rule 59A of the Election Rules in light of "apprehended intimidation and victimisation of electors" However, EVMs do not permit this. Using a totaliser would increase the secrecy of votes during counting, thus preventing the disclosure of voting patterns and countering fears of intimidation and victimisation.

13.3. A totaliser would also help in situations such as witnessed in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Hoshangabad, where an EVM at the Mokalvada polling station in Sohagpur area malfunctioned just minutes before voting was to conclude at 6 pm. A lone voter, who arrived at the polling station at 5:50 pm then had to cast their vote in a newly installed EVM.

The ECI issued a clarification that this single vote had to be counted, even if it compromised on the voter's secrecy and instead stated that one way of dealing with such situations in the future is the introduction of a totaliser machine to count the votes recorded on several EVMs contemporaneously.540

540. Raghvendra Rao, Lone vote in Hoshangabad EVM to be counted, even if it blows voter's cover, INDIAN EXPRESS, 14th May 2012,
<http://indianexpress.com/article/india/indiaothers/lone-vote-in-hoshangabad-evm-to-be-counted-even-if-it-blows-voters-cover/99/>

13.4. Although the ECI's proposal was referred to a Parliamentary Committee in 2009, no action was taken on it. In August 2014, the ECI moved the Law Ministry on this issue again.541 Subsequently in September 2014, the Supreme Court in a PIL in Yogesh Gupta v. ECI, WP (Civil) No. 422/2014 order of the Supreme Court on 08.09.2014 issued directions to the government to issue to clarify why no steps were taken pursuant to the ECI's 2008 proposals.

Noting that the issue had been referred to the Law Commission for consideration, the three-judge bench of the Court asked the government what concrete steps it had taken on the ECI's suggestions of using a totaliser to prevent (or reduce) instances of intimidation or victimisation.543 In its latest order on 16th January, the Court records the Government's submission that it would seek the views of the Law Commission, and the submission of an interim report on the issue.

543. Can totaliser be used for counting votes, asks SC, The Hindu, 10th September 2014,
<http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/can-totaliser-be-used-for-counting-votes-askssupreme-court/article6398304.ece>

541. Election Commission wants to use 'Totaliser' to enhance vote secrecy, ECONOMIC TIMES, 17th August 2014,
<http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-08-17/news/52901387_1_law-ministry-ballot-paper-secrecy>

13.5. The ECI's proposal has also been supported in the Background Paper on Electoral Reforms prepared by the Legislative Department of the Law Ministry in 2010.544 Moreover, as the ECI has itself clarified, a "totaliser" has already been developed by EVM manufacturers to connect several control units at a time to indicate the total number of votes polled and recorded in the specified number of polling stations.545 Thus, administratively it is not difficult to collect information about the number of votes polled by each candidate for a whole group of polling stations, thus hiding the pattern of voting in each individual booth.

544. Background paper, supra note 230, at para 6.15.

545. Electronic Voting Machine,
<http://pib.nic.in/elections2009/volume1/Chap-39.pdf>

13.6. For all these reasons, the Law Commission reiterates and endorses the ECI's suggestion for introducing a totaliser for the counting of votes recorded in EVMs. Similar to the existing Rule 59A, the Commission proposes to amend Rule 66A to empower the ECI to decide when, and in which constituency and polling booths, to employ a totaliser, after taking into consideration the context of the elections and any threats of intimidation or victimisation.



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