Election Commission
Headquarters of the Election Commission of India in New Delhi | Suraj Sigh Bisht | ThePrint
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New Delhi: A controversy erupted Sunday evening as the Election Commission was yet to declare the final voter turnout for Delhi almost 20 hours after voting ended Saturday.

While the EC did record the tentative voter turnout Saturday at 61 per cent at 10.58 pm, it is yet to declare the final turnout, stoking fears of foul play. Polling for the single-phase Delhi assembly election concluded at 6 pm.

Those raising questions about the delay included Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — while Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioned the delay on Twitter, party MP Sanjay Singh held a conference.

Election Commission insiders, however, denied the announcement of numbers for Delhi was delayed.

“The compiled figures of all 70 assembly constituencies from CEO are being posted shortly,” a senior EC official told ThePrint Sunday evening. “The turnout is about 62.55 per cent.”

Asked about the allegations of delay, Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh said, “Data entry usually takes time, we have to follow the protocols…The tentative figures are already known, so final figures will not be very different.”

“I just received the final data this morning, so it will take some time for it to be computed… I am hoping the numbers will be out by today.”

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S.K. Mendiratta, a former legal adviser to the EC, said there was no statutory time limit within which voter turnout data has to be released. “There is no delay in Delhi… It has 14,000 polling stations, it will take time to process the data,” he said.

On average, it does take about a day to declare the final voter data, he added.

Voter turnout figures are generally released the same evening voting ends, but later announcements are not unprecedented. In the 2016 West Bengal assembly elections, for example, the final voter data was declared 48 hours after the polling was concluded. In the 2018 Telangana elections, there was a delay of 24 hours.

Also read: How Arvind Kejriwal’s third attempt at national politics may play out

‘Absolutely shocking’

Even so, the delay has resulted in fears of wrongdoing after all exit polls predicted a sweep by the AAP Saturday.

“Absolutely shocking. What is EC doing? Why are they not releasing poll turnout figures, several hours after polling?” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.

AAP leaders have also alleged receiving information that “officials [are] trying to take away EVMs in an unauthorised manner”.

“Information has been received that officials are trying to take away EVMs at several places in an unauthorised manner. The EVMs should have been sealed and have gone straight to strongrooms. How are these machines with the officials?” Singh was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Also read: Between Shaheen bagh and Hanuman Chalisa, the Delhi voter lost something


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