The Election Commission of India (ECI) has turned down the state panel’s demand for introducing EVMs for the first time in the panchayat elections, citing its inability to provide add-on machines.
The state panel had written to the ECI in October for introducing the EVMs in the panchayat elections due in January-February to fast-track the election process. The state panel will, however, use the machines for the first time during the urban local bodies elections scheduled in November.
A state election panel officer hinted that all hopes were still not lost, saying,”…we are still trying.”
But, the logistics suggest that even if the election commission allowed to provide 25% of the total number of EVMs available with the state commission (to which it has agreed), holding panchayat elections without ballot-boxes would be impossible.
According to sources, unlike Lok Sabha and assembly polls, panchayat polls require a large number of machines as a voter has to cast three votes — one each for the panchayat sarpanch, panchayat samiti members, and jila parishad members, said an ECI official.
As per official sources, there would be about 35,000 polling booths for panchayat elections. This means at least 35,000 EVMs would be required. The number can increase as two booths are set up at some panchayats. The state commission has about 5000 machines and the ECI agrees to provide just 25% of that number.
Besides, the state panel doesn’t have the budget to purchase the remaining number of machines with an EVM costing around Rs 14,000 a piece.