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.”
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
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.
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.
Absolutely shocking. What is EC doing? Why are they not releasing poll turnout figures, several hours after polling? https://t.co/ko1m5YqlSx
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 9, 2020
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.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.