During the December 1 election, officers of some polling stations had provided other distinguishing mark instead of the arrow-cross to voters for marking ballot papers
In the wake of the High Court suspending its order allowing ballots with marking other than arrow-cross mark issued on December 3, a day before the counting of votes of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) election, the Telangana State Election Commission (SEC) stated that the court order would not have any impact on the counting process.
“Suspension of the December 3 order will not have any impact on the process of counting of GHMC election votes. However, result could be delayed only if the number of votes polled (ballots) with other than arrow-cross mark (swastik) is higher than the majority secured by a candidate with ballots not in question,” sources in the SEC told The Hindu when asked for a reaction following the court order on Friday morning.
The SEC sources stated that the circular was issued after some of the counting observers raised certain issues in a conference (virtual) held on December 3 evening. It was brought to the notice of the SEC that the officers of some polling stations had provided other distinguishing mark instead of arrow-cross mark to voters for marking the ballot papers during the December 1 polling.
The SEC authorities clarified to the observers during the meet that “if the intention of the voter is clear on marking to a particular candidate, the vote can be treated as valid vote to that candidate since it is the mistake of the polling personnel under Rule 51(h) of Conduct of Election Rules, 2005”.
“The December 3 circular on ballots with distinguishing mark other than arrow-cross mark is given as per the rule book only and not invented by us,” the SEC sources said adding that they would take a decision on moving the High Court against its order only after studying the order copy.
As per the Telangana SEC Manual of Election Law under GHMC Act, 1955 (Rule 51 of Chapter-II, Page-121), the Returning Officer shall reject a ballot paper if; “(b) to indicate the vote, it bears a mark made otherwise than with the instrument supplied for the purpose”. The sources said the responsibility of providing the marking instrument (rubber stamp) was that of the presiding officer and the voter was not at fault nor was his vote invalid if he/she used any stamp supplied to him for the purpose of ballot paper marking.