4 Ways in Which a Free & Fair Election Is Compromised
Electoral reforms have to ensure the processes and outcomes of elections do not substitute personal or partisan benefit for the public interest. Can the current system ensure this? Unfortunately, electoral rolls, Aadhaar, lacuna in voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and electronics voting machines (EVM) work in concert, to corrupt the electoral process. Let us see how.
Each parliamentary constituency had an electoral list with an average of 1,708 parts in 2014. Each part has an average of 904 voters who cast their vote on the same EVM in the same booth. There’s an average of 15,44,032 voters per constituency. With 65.95% turnout, an average of 10,18,289 votes have voted per constituency. In five Lok Sabha elections of 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014, on an average 32 seats were won with a margin of less than 1%, 69 with less than 2% and 101 with less than 3%. 
A winning margin of 1% translates to 10,182 votes. With each EVM capable of storing 3,840 votes, just a few EVMs are needed to secure the winning margin.
Is there any way three booths / EVMs could be captured so that the winning candidate can get the winning margin? The problem is which three? The three EVMs have to capture the votes that the winning candidate would not have got.
There are multiple ways to accomplish this. But let us consider one. What if in at least three parts of a list be grouped to collect together voters whose votes would not have gone to the desired winner? 
Enter the electoral rolls. Usually, just before the elections, the rolls are revised under Rule 25 or corrected under Rule 26 of the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960. There are additions and deletions.
Now, the district electoral officers, or their deputies, have outsourced the task of collecting Form 6 (registering a new voter), Form 7 (deleting an existing voter) and Form 8A (transposing a voter to a different part in the roll) to political parties, citing shortage of manpower. 
All may still be well if the names of electors in each part of the roll are arranged according to house number as required under Rule 6(1) of the Registration of Electors Rules. There are several parts of the roll where this is not so. This makes it a definite possibility that political parties can capture the booths with some ingenuity. This amounts to booth capturing as defined in 135A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Extract of Rule 6 of the Registration of Electors Rules
6. Order of names.—(1) the names of electors in each part of the roll shall be arranged according to house number, unless the chief electoral officer, subject to any general or special instructions issued by the Election Commission, determines in respect of any part that the alphabetical order is more convenient or that the names shall be arranged partly in one way and partly in the other. 
(2) The names of electors in each part of the roll shall be numbered, so far as practicable, consecutively with a separate series of numbers beginning with the number one. 
Extract from 135A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951
"booth capturing" includes, among other things, all or any of the following activities, namely:— 
(a) seizure of a polling station or a place fixed for the poll by any person or persons, making polling authorities surrender the ballot papers or voting machines and doing of any other act which affects the orderly conduct of elections; 
(b) taking possession of a polling station or a place fixed for the poll by any person or persons and allowing only his or their own supporters to exercise their right to vote and 4[prevent others from free exercise of their right to vote]; 
(c) 6[coercing or intimidating or threatening directly or indirectly] any elector and preventing him from going to the polling station or a place fixed for the poll to cast his vote; 
(d) seizure of a place for counting of votes by any person or persons, making the counting authorities surrender the ballot papers or voting machines and the doing of anything which affects the orderly counting of votes; 
(e) doing by any person in the service of Government, of all or any of the aforesaid activities or aiding or conniving at, any such activity in the furtherance of the prospects of the election of a candidate.] 
From 2009 the Election Commission has ignored repeated requests to arrange all rolls as per Rule 6 of the Registration of Electors Rules. The CEO of Maharashtra has ignored the order of the registrar of the Mumbai High
Court twice to do so and stonewalled RTI queries about the action taken on the registrar’s orders. 
By not arranging the rolls as per Rule 6 of the registration of electors rules, the lists have become unauditable and made booth-capturing difficult to detect. It is not surprising to see whole new parts to which voters are transposed. It is not a stretch to recognise that these parts have been created to collect voters who would have voted against the desired winner. 
Booth capturing with Aadhaar
The then chief election commissioner, OP Rawat, declared in March 2018 that 32 crore Aadhaar numbers had been already linked to voter ID cards. Linked to voter ID, targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services, using Aadhaar, allows the inclusion or exclusion of persons from within a constituency from benefits. This means, the use of Aadhaar can target the manipulation of votes across several booths. 
For inclusion of selected voters, their Aadhaar is seeded to beneficiary lists. Such included Aadhaar numbers are not subjected to certification, verification, or audit of their real identity, qualification as beneficiary or even their receipt of the benefit. 
For exclusion of selected voters, from beneficiary lists, their Aadhaar is de-seeded, seeded to benami Aadhaar numbers, deactivated or its authentication is caused to fail. This, again, means that select booths can be targeted. 
Aadhaar also allows the inclusion, exclusion or transposition of voters using a Jan Dhan account opened solely with Aadhaar. As is by now widely recognised and pointed out by Justice P.B.Sawant, at least 58 crore Aadhaar numbers have been issued without any valid primary identification or address documents. Many of these Aadhaar numbers have been used to obtain valid, but “fake” primary identification documents. This has played havoc with the electoral rolls. It takes little imagination to recognise why politicians opposed to Aadhaar, when in the opposition, have been forcing its linkage to everything, particularly banking, PAN and voter IDs. 
The unauditable EVM
The VVPAT adds an illusion of transparency. It incorrectly calls the display of a vote as voter verification. The voter can neither verify as correct or incorrect the votes as they do not get to reject an incorrect vote nor do they get to endorse a correct one. Any objection that the vote was incorrect results in threat of penal action.
Even if the votes were verified while casting, the same may not be counted. In the 2019 Lok Sabha, according to the Election Commission, 60,96,24,293 votes were counted by the EVMs. A significant difference has already been reported between the voter turnout and votes counted in most of the constituencies in the 2019 parliamentary elections. Form 17C will reveal how many voters actually cast votes and how many votes were counted. 
To prove that balloting was free from corruption, the Election Commission will have to show that :
No EVM, anywhere in the world, provides the possibility to do either. It is unnecessary to demonstrate whether EVMs can be hacked. The above makes a sufficient case that even if EVMs in a few booths across a few constituencies are replaced or reinitialised, the election is stolen.
Sarah Birch, author of Electoral Malpractice, defines electoral malpractice as the manipulation of electoral processes and outcomes so as to substitute personal or partisan benefit for the public interest. This manipulation of voter rolls and the use of Aadhaar clearly constitutes corrupt practice under section 123(1), 123(2), 123(3), 123(6), 123(7) and 123(8) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. It is beyond doubt that public interest is replaced by personal or partisan interest when 
1. The votes received by a candidate cannot be confirmed to all have been meant for the candidate or having been cast by genuine voters.
2. The voter cannot confirm if his or her vote got counted for the candidate it was meant for.
3. All voters cannot confirm that they could cast their vote for their candidates.
Electoral reform has ignored the simplification of electoral processes to ensure that public interest is not replaced by personal or partisan interests. The EC must ensure that the rolls change, Aadhaar ends and that ballots are truly auditable. 
(Dr Anupam Saraph is a Professor, Future Designer, former governance and IT advisor to Goa’s former chief minister Manohar Parrikar and the Global Agenda Councils of the World Economic Forum. He has designed delivery channels and ID schemes for good governance in his previous roles.)
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    1 year ago

    This article is not worth the paper it is printed on! These so called experts have suddenly surfaced after the election, to pick holes in the process. It is alleged that the ruling establishment can control the outcome by manipulating/capturing EVMs and by controlling electoral rolls. Electoral rolls are published well in advance and the officers who administer corrections/additions to it are drawn from the state governments. In Karnataka and Kerala the parties ruling the state (and thus allegedly in a position to control the electoral rolls) were severely defeated in 2019 lok sabha elections. The idea of grouping the voters and routing them to particular EVMs is wierd! Dr Saraph is either ignorant or willfully prevaricating when he says that "Significant difference has been reported between voter turnout and votes counted in most consituencies.." If that be the case, why are the opposition parties not raising a hue and cry? I have not seen a single authoritative report like this.
    Last but not the least, Dr Saraph with his apparently vast knowledge on this subject, does not offer a practical solution to remedy the so called problems with election process. Sorry that Moneylife is giving space to such useless articles.


    Anupam Saraph

    In Reply to B. KRISHNAN 1 year ago

    What is an authoritative report to you? One in MSM that is owned by private interests?

    You can confirm the data for yourself from https://eci.gov.in/statistical-report/statistical-reports/, https://aamjanata.com/politics/corruption/comparison-of-constituency-level-votes-polled-votes-counted-data-generalelections2019-interactivemap/ and http://lokdhaba.ashoka.edu.in/LokDhaba-Shiny/

    Since you require authority rather than the facts to draw conclusions I am placing on record that I have raised the issues with the Election Commission of India and the Maharashtra Election Commission from 2009. I have filed complaints with the District Electoral Officer of Pune District and with the Commissioner of police, Pune. I have petitioned the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of the Mumbai high Court. The Mumbai High Court, as highlighted in the article, ordered the Maharashtra State to twice to order voters in each part as per house number.

    You may want to try obtaining Form 17C from each Constituency. Ever wondered why the data on that Form is not online and publicly available?

    Have you asked MSM to offer solutions to the issues they report? Can't you infer the solutions from the article? Simply following the Registration of Electors Rules is one.

    If you want more on solutions that I have proposed, please see: https://www.epw.in/journal/2011/12/commentary/agenda-reform-election-system-india.html which was also submitted to the Law Ministry in 2011. You can also see: https://www.slideshare.net/AnupamSaraph/edit_my_uploads?page=5 which was presented at the International Conference on EVMs held by Dr. Subramanyam Swamy in 2009.

    Can you demand at least the same standards from every MSM report you read?

    Sluggish monsoon may spell trouble for farm sector
    Southwest monsoon this year has become a thing of concern for policymakers as it has not just been delayed by a week, but it is also likely to be sluggish and erratic, which may spell trouble for the farm sector.
    Paddy, the primary crop of the kharif season, is likely to be hit as June as well as July are expected to be rain-deficit. The output of pulses such as arhar (pigeon pea), soybean and coarse cereals is also likely to be affected.
    As droughts occurred in patches across the country, there won't be a disastrous impact on the overall food-grain production but it may have beating on small and marginal farmers by way of breaching their income security.
    "The areas with irrigation such as Punjab and Haryana are not of concern. The real challenge will be looking at the income security of small and marginal farmers in rain-fed areas," said T. Nandkumar, former Union Agriculture Secretary.
    A senior official at the Agriculture Ministry said that it was in constant touch with the states to apprise the Centre of the developing situation.
    "We have asked them to be prepared with precautionary and remedial measures in case there is deficit rainfall," said the official, requesting anonymity.
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    The Food Ministry has started procuring over 50,000 tonnes of onion to deal with shortage if output goes down, indicating the government is not optimistic about good rainfall this year.
    Farmers have been advised by private weather forecaster Skymet to postpone sowing by almost a week of the conventional dates as it said there are less chances of rains if the onset of the monsoon is delayed.
    If there is a long gap between two rain spells, there is high probability of newly planted seeds getting killed.
    Skymet has predicted "below average" monsoon -- 93 per cent of LPA -- this year with indications of higher risk in the eastern parts and major portion of Central India being rain deficient.
    The average, or normal, rainfall in the country is defined between 96 and 104 per cent of a 50-year average for the entire four-month monsoon season, or Long Period Average (LPA), which is 887 mm.
    Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted "near normal" monsoon -- 95 per cent of the LPA -- with evenly distributed rainfall.
    It, however, said there is 51 per cent chance that the monsoon would be normal or above while there is 49 per cent probability that it remains below normal.
    The Agriculture Ministry official said the rainfall this time is expected to be "erratic" and "sluggish" citing recent developments related to the monsoon.
    The second half of the rainy season would see better rainfall as August and September are expected to see normal rains. However, the entire season is expected to end on a deficit note.
    The rainfall in June will be 77 per cent (164 mm) of the LPA while it will be 91 per cent (289 mm) in July, 102 per cent (261 mm) in August and 99 per cent (173 mm) in September, as per Skymet.
    Skymet has said that paddy production is expected to reduce to 97.78 million tonnes this kharif season compared to 101.96 million tonnes in the previous season.
    It also said there is 40 per cent possibility of about 66 per cent districts in the country being deficient or largely deficient if the monsoon is "below normal". 
    Nandkumar expects about 100 districts, including those in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, Telangana, Bihar and Jharkhand, to be rain deficient. 
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Aviation scam: ED quizzes Praful Patel for 8 hours
    The Enforcement Directorate (ED) here on Monday questioned for over eight hours former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel in connection with a money laundering probe into the losses suffered by Air India under the alleged multi-crore aviation scam.
    This was Patel's first appearance before the agency in connection with the case. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader has been called again for questioning on Tuesday. On June 6, he had skipped the ED questioning citing prior commitments and asked for a new date.
    The case follows a criminal complaint registered by the ED over alleged irregularities in fixing air slots for international airlines that purportedly led to losses for Air India. However, he has denied any wrongdoing.
    The ED has already questioned several Air India officials and also recorded statements of then Civil Aviation Secretary and others involved in processing and finalising the agreements.
    Patel was the Civil Aviation Minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government between 2004 and 2011, when the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines took place. 
    According to senior ED officials, the agency asked Patel about the Air India and the ministry officials who favoured foreign airlines by giving up profit-making routes and profit-making timings.
    Patel's questioning has come almost after a month when the ED filed its final report in the alleged aviation scam. 
    In its May 1 charge-sheet, the ED named corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar and alleged that he finalised various communications addressed to Patel on behalf of Emirates and Air Arabia.
    Talwar, currently in judicial custody, was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January this year.
    The ED probe encompasses Air India-Indian Airlines merger; purchase of 111 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus at Rs 70,000 crore; ceding of profitable routes and schedules to private airlines; and opening of training institutes with foreign investment.
    It is also investigating how the money received in Talwar's accounts were transferred to government employees, including those in the Civil Aviation Ministry. 
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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