Election FAQ: What is the Challenged Vote?

Election FAQ: What is the Challenged Vote?

Imagine you are going to your polling booth to cast your vote with all documents in order. You go into the booth, submit your documents, verify yourself, have your finger marked and all, but just before you vote, one of the polling agents stops you and says "this person is not who they claim to be", leaving you perplexed. Your vote has been challenged.

A challenged vote is a process where a political agent working at the polling booth, called a polling agent, challenges the identity of any elector they think is falsifying their identity.

The process for challenging the vote is simple and defined in The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961. It stipulates the following process for challenging the identity, and as an extension the vote, of any person:

Any polling agent may challenge the identity of a person claiming to be a particular elector by first depositing a sum of two rupees in cash with the presiding officer for each such challenge. On such deposit being made, the presiding officer shall -

  • Warn the person challenged of the penalty for personation;
  • Read the relevant entry in the electoral roll in full and ask them whether he is the person referred to in that entry;
  • Enter their name and address in the list of challenged votes in Form 14; and
  • Require them to affix his signature in the said list.

The presiding officer shall thereafter hold a summary inquiry into the challenge and may for that purpose -

  • Require the challenger to adduce evidence in proof of the challenge and the person challenged to adduce evidence of proof of their identity
  • Put to the person challenged any questions necessary for the purpose of establishing their identity and require him to answer them on oath
  • Administer an oath to the person challenged and any other person offering to give evidence. 

If, after the inquiry, the presiding officer considers that the challenge has not been established he shall allow the person challenged to vote; and if he considers that the challenge has been established, he shall debar the person challenged from voting.

If the presiding officer is of the opinion that the challenge is frivolous or has not been made in good faith, he shall direct that the deposit made to be forfeited to Government or returned to the challenger at the conclusion of the inquiry.