'Will implement SC order expeditiously'

The Election Commission (EC) on Friday said it would comply with the Supreme Court’s (SC's) order to add the “none-of-the-above” option in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) “as expeditiously as possible”.

Soon after the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to provide voters with an option to reject all the candidates in the fray, the poll panel is gearing up to implement the order.

The EC said “none of the above” would be printed in a separate panel just below the name of the last contesting candidate on the ballot paper, which would be affixed to the balloting unit of the EVM. “If the voter presses the button next to 'none of the above', his or her desire not to vote for any of the candidates in the fray will get recorded in the EVM in secrecy,” stated the poll panel in a release issued on Friday.

Each EVM consists of a control unit, operated by polling officials, and one or more balloting units, placed in the voting compartment to be used by voters. Each balloting unit has a provision for 16 candidates, and if their number in a particular constituency exceeds 16, additional balloting units are put in. 

Each EVM can have a maximum of four balloting units, and the device at present can be used if the total number of candidates does not cross 64.

According to the existing EC guidelines, polling would be conducted through traditional ballot papers in constituencies where the total number of candidates is more than 64.But once the EC implements the Supreme Court order, EVMs would be usable in constituencies where the total number of candidates do not cross 63.

The EC said it would also make “appropriate changes in Part 2 of Form 17C, used during counting, and the result sheet in Form 20, to separately compile the number of persons” who used the option of not voting for any of the candidates.

The poll panel itself had in December 2001 sent a proposal to the government to make a suitable provision in the rules to introduce an additional button in the balloting unit of the EVM so that electors could exercise the “none-of-the-above” option.

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