Amid call for ballot system, SEC to dispose of 286 MT ballot paper
Amid renewed demand by political parties for return to old ballot system of voting, the UP State Election Commission (UPSEC) is preparing to dispose of around 2.86 lakh kg (286 metric tons) ballot papers that have been reduced to waste after being used in rural and urban local bodies elections.
Besides this, thousands of ballot boxes are also gathering dust in various stores waiting for safe disposal.
The commission is inviting fresh bids for the auction of ballot papers, ballot boxes and other papers after it failed to get suitable buyers in the bids it invited in September-October last year.
“We are inviting fresh bids for the auction of ballot papers and boxes on ‘as and where’ basis as the stuff will be sold to successful bidders in a destroyed form so that it can be recycled but not reused,” additional state election commissioner Ved Prakash Verma said.
The commission had, on September 13, 2018, issued an e-auction notification inviting bids for the auction of an estimated 249.60 metric tons (MT) used and unused ballot papers stored at various district elections officers, 7,525 unusable ballot boxes and 6,410 steel boxes.
Besides this, 30.083 MT ‘raddi’ (worthless paper) left after printing ballot papers and stored at the private printing press in Delhi and another 6.45 MT waste paper stored at government printing press in Lucknow, Rampur, Varanasi and Allahabad has also been sought to be auctioned.
All these ballot papers and boxes were used during panchayat elections in 2015 and urban local body polls in 2017.
In UP, urban local body polls in 14 Nagar Nigams, including Lucknow, were held through electronic voting machines (EVMs). The total amount of paper used as ballot papers or left after printing ballot papers during the two elections stood at 286 MT.
An official at the UP SEC said, “As per rules, ballot papers can be destroyed and sold in the form of ‘lugdi’ (pulp) after a year of the election in which it was used.”
“One can imagine the amount of waste paper that would be generated if the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the country are allowed to be held through ballot papers,” he said.
“In urban polls, we are trying to use EVMs in all the cities beyond municipal corporations where they are already used.” the official said.
Former chief election commissioner TS Krishnamurthy had recently cautioned that holding elections through ballot papers would result into wastage of tons of paper, besides posing many other threats.
The UPSEC has earlier explored the possibility of using EVMs in panchayat polls but it was found to be an uphill task technically and practically due to the large number of contestants in such elections.