When 17C is with candidates and EVMs in strong rooms, how can turnout data be fudged: EC sources

New Delhi, May 24 (PTI) Rejected contention that turnout data can be fudged, Election Commission sources Friday said that once Form 17C — which records votes polled per polling station — is handed over to candidates and EVMs are stored in strong rooms, the figures cannot be tampered with.

They were responding to questions related the Supreme Court decision earlier in the day not to issue directions to the EC on an NGO’s plea for uploading booth-wise turnout data on its website during the Lok Sabha elections. The SC favoured a “hands-off attitude” amidst an ongoing electoral process.

Form 17C records votes polled per polling station and is given to candidates or their agents when the EVMS are sealed before being taken to strong rooms.

An official pointed out that even if Form 17C is given to four candidates per polling station in a hypothetical situation, more than 42 lakh people would have this document as there are 10.5 lakh polling stations.

“How can 42 lakh persons of different political parties be fooled and data fudged,” the functionary quipped.

The commission had expressed concern that there is a “design, a pattern” that is at play and the petitioners are not approaching courts with clean hands.

They are misusing the forum of the court with an agenda to perpetually keep creating doubt in the minds of voters based on conspiracy theories, it has said.

The sources claimed that creating doubts ahead of elections about the integrity of the electoral roll without citing instances, and questioning the EVMs after announcement of polls have the potential to confuse voters.

An official said that Form 17C has never been shared in public domain as it is not permitted in law. It can happen once the law is changed.

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