Can a polling station record more votes than the number of voters listed under its jurisdiction?
Although the Election Commission says it is technically possible, it is in no mood to take chances and has begun probing allegations of largescale rigging in many polling stations in Nagaland, 15 of which have recorded a voter turnout of more than 100 per cent.
Nagaland voted on April 9 to elect its lone Lok Sabha MP. Of the total 2,059 polling stations, as many as 48 are alleged to have witnessed a voter turnout of 100 per cent or more. Of these 48, as many as 15 recorded a turnout of more than 100 per cent.
Against its 117 registered voters, the Satheri polling station, for instance, polled 144 votes. Similarly, the polling station at Kiyetha recorded 168 votes against its total registered number of 155. The polling station at Nihoshe, with 350 registered voters, polled 358 votes. Amahator polled 786 votes against its registered 780.
“Nagaland has recorded an overall high voter turnout of 89 percent. That some of the booths have seen more than 100 per cent voter turnout could have happened because of the votes cast by government personnel on poll duty by using their election duty certificates,” deputy election commissioner Sudhir Tripathi told The Indian Express.
“Government employees who are posted on booth duties are entitled to cast their votes at the same booth by using their election duty certificates. Personnel who are on the move on the poll day are allowed to vote anywhere in a constituency. All of these votes are cast through EVMs,” Tripathi explained.
This, he said, could have given an impression that more than the registered number of voters ended up voting at a booth.
He, however, added that although this “more than 100 per cent” voting was technically possible, it was yet to be ascertained if that is what actually happened in Nagaland. “We are getting an inquiry done,” he said, adding that none of the candidates had raised any issue during the scrutiny a day after the polls.
Nagaland’s Chief Electoral Officer Sentiyanger Imchen echoed Tripathi.
“It is true that many booths have recorded a turnout of more than 100 per cent. But it is because of the votes cast by employees on poll duty who used their election duty certificates. We have informed the EC about this,” he said.
Crying foul, the Congress has already made a representation to the Election Commission and accused the Naga People’s Front, which fielded incumbent Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio as its candidate, of having indulged in bogus voting and rigging.