181 votes cast in polling station with 90 voters; 5 officials suspended - Hindustan Times
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181 votes cast in polling station with 90 voters; 5 officials suspended

By, Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Apr 06, 2021 12:44 AM IST

The incident occurred at a polling station at Khothlir LP School in the Halflong seat of Dima Hasao district, which went to polls in the second phase on April 1.

Election authorities in Assam suspended five polling officials on Monday after 181 votes were cast in a polling station that had only 90 registered voters because local officials allowed people from a nearby booth to exercise their franchise.

This is the second incident of poll irregularity reported in Assam during this assembly election.(AP)
This is the second incident of poll irregularity reported in Assam during this assembly election.(AP)

The incident occurred at a polling station at Khothlir LP School in the Halflong seat of Dima Hasao district, which went to polls in the second phase on April 1. According to officials, this particular polling station -- an auxiliary one in addition to the main polling station -- was set up for the first time.

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“During scrutiny of the presiding officer’s diary and other documents, it was found out that the presiding officer and polling officers of Khothlir LP School have allowed 181 persons to cast their votes against the total 90 voters in that polling station,” said a statement issued on Monday by Assam’s chief electoral officer Nitin Khade.

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It added that while the auxiliary polling station has 90 voters, the main polling station under which the auxiliary one falls, has 616 voters.

“The presiding officer and first polling officer in their statements have admitted that they allowed voters registered against the main polling station to cast their votes in the auxiliary polling station,” the statement said.

“Taking note of this lapse, the district election officer has suspended the sector officer, the presiding officer and three other polling officers, booth level officer for dereliction of duty,” it added.

The returning officer of the constituency has recommended repoll at both the auxiliary and main polling stations. The date for repoll is yet to be decided.

According to officials, the auxiliary polling station was set up for this election to facilitate voters in the remote area as the polling percentage in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from the area was only 34%.

This is the second incident of poll irregularity reported in Assam during this assembly election.

On April 1, after conclusion of the second phase of polling, several electronic voting machines (EVMs) from a polling station in Ratabari seat were found in the vehicle belonging to the wife of a sitting Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from neighbouring Patharkandi. Both seats are from Barak Valley region of the state.

Following outcry over this major lapse, the Election Commission suspended four officials and ordered repoll in the polling station to which the EVMs belonged.

In a statement, EC mentioned that the polling officials used the MLA’s wife’s car, without knowing whom it belonged to, as the official vehicle in which they were carrying the EVMs broke down while taking the machines back after polling ended. A magisterial inquiry was ordered into the incident.

The third and final phase of polling in Assam for 40 seats will take place on Tuesday.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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