Poll officials leaked postal ballots' serial numbers: Cong

Poll officials leaked postal ballots' serial numbers: Cong

The Congress in Goa today alleged that election officials leaked serial numbers of postal ballots to the BJP, a charge rubbished by the state's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).

Congress Secretary Girish Chodankar alleged that this was done "to help the BJP by pressurise the government servants to vote for the party."

However, CEO Kunal refuted the charge saying secrecy of the entire election process has been maintained. "Postal ballots are issued under provisions of law and the process to receive them has been defined under Representation of People's Act-1951 and Conduct of Election Rules 1961," Kunal said.

There were total 15,590 postal ballots, of which the CEO has received 8,470 ballots till February 18, while the remaining 7,000-odd are yet to be returned. The last date for casting postal ballot is the morning of March 11, the counting day.

The Congress contested on 37 of the 40 seats in the recently held Assembly polls. "Free and fair election process is at stake. The party will urge the Election Commission of India (ECI) demanding inquiry into the faulty process adopted by the Chief Electoral Office. The government servants should be asked to vote through Electronic Voting Machine, scrapping the ballot papers," Chodankar said.

The Election Commission officials, however, said they don't maintain an individual record of the persons who have been issued the ballot papers. "Report from district election officers on the total number of postal ballots issued and received is compiled in the CEO office and is  shared with ECI. The same was also shared  with representatives of political parties in the meeting held last week," Kunal said.

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