How important is it for political parties to know how many people have voted for them in each polling booth? Not much, felt the Election Commission and the Law Commission, which recommended that votes polled in 14 booths be counted together with the help of a Totaliser machine developed by Bharat Electronics and Electronic Corporation of India, manufacturers of Electronic Voting Machines. Putting an end to booth-wise counting would help enhance secrecy and prevent the harassment of voters, felt the two Commissions. “Using a totaliser would increase the secrecy of votes during counting, thus preventing the disclosure of voting patterns and countering fears of intimidation and victimisation,” said the Law Commission in its recommendation. It could also have made counting faster and eventually reduced cost.
The Election Commission had received complaints that funds were blocked and funds diverted from areas where the eventual winners did not receive much support. Cases of post-poll reprisals and intimidation of voters were also reported. But the Government argued that booth-wise voting pattern needed to be disclosed to political parties for better booth-management.
Five union cabinet ministers (Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Manohar Parrikar, Nitin Gadkari and Ravi Shankar Prasad) while rejecting the recommendation observed that learning booth-wise details of the voting pattern would help political parties improve their performance and deliver ‘booth-wise’ developmental activities.