Days after several school teachers in the capital sent representations to the office of the Delhi Chief Election Officer against the decision to have those on election duty stay overnight at the polling booth, EC officials said that while women polling officials have the option to not stay overnight, they will ultimately be responsible for the safety of the EVMs if they are presiding officers.
This is the first time election officers in Delhi have to stay at polling booths overnight— a norm in place at other states for several years now. Teachers form a major chunk of poll officers in the capital.
In an order signed January 22, the CEO’s office stated: “…this office has been receiving many representations of teachers’ associations regarding their discontent on reaching polling booths a day before the Assembly elections.”
In a meeting, held on January 18, to discuss the reservations of teachers’ associations, officials said it was decided it will be optional for women to stay at polling stations— including women presiding officers— “provided other male polling officials and security persons stay overnight and are made responsible to ensure the safety of EVM/VVPAT and other election material in their custody. However, the safety and security of machines will be the responsibility of polling parties in general and presiding officer in particular.”
Delhi CEO Ranbir Singh said: “If the (presiding) officer, having received the EVM, wants to go home, they have to delegate the responsibility to someone else in the team. But the overall responsibility and accountability will lie with the presiding officer; it doesn’t mean they are free from any responsibility.” ens
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