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Micro observers for Bihar polls

patna Updated: Jan 30, 2009 18:13 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times
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The Election Commission (EC) will depute micro observers at all booths in Bihar during the coming Lok Sabha elections, in a bid to bring more transparency and fairness in the conduct of the polls. It will be for the first time that observers would be put on static duty at booths in the State in any election. The Commission had earlier experimented with the same idea in Uttar Pradesh in previous polls.

Sources said the micro observers would keep an eye on every activity inside the booth and surrounding areas and later report to the returning officer of the parliamentary constituencies. “The idea is to minimise poll irregularities like rigging and violence at the booths. For observers, it would be easy to communicate any untoward incident to the officials concerned,” said an election officer.

The EC believes that despite the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), there still is room for rigging through fake voters and for other manipulation. In 2005 October polls, the Commission had up put secret cameras at sensitive booths to capture the activities inside them.

Incidentally, the implementation of the EC directive is a challenging task for the State Election Department given the huge number of personnel required for deputation at the booths. There are a total of 56,000 booths, which require an estimated 26,000 to 30,000 personnel even if two to three booths are clubbed under the charge of one micro observer. With the staff shortage in the State owing to restrictions in taking the services of teachers and medical personnel posted in hospitals, there were chances that Central Government employees and personnel posted in various corporations/boards would be mobilised for duty.

Meanwhile, the State Election Department has already requisitioned 70,000 new ugraded EVMs for use in the coming elections. The existing EVMs of 2000 and 2005 polls in Bihar would be sent to Orissa for use in the general elections, sources said.