Maharashtra bypoll: Voters say NCP votes transferred to BJP, election officer denies claim

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According to the residents of Nawalwadi village of Satara district in Maharashtra, the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) were malfunctioning at their polling booth. When they pressed the button on EVM for the NCP, the vote was being transferred to the BJP, they said.

An election officer on Tuesday denied the claims that votes cast to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) were automatically transferred to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during polling at a booth in Satara Lok Sabha bypoll, held on Monday.

According to the residents of Nawalwadi village of Satara district in Maharashtra, the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) were malfunctioning at their polling booth. When they pressed the button on EVM for the NCP, the vote was being transferred to the BJP, they said.

Deepak Pawar, an NCP polling agent said, "When we started the polling procedure, the first voter said that there is a problem with the machine. When the button for clock (NCP symbol) is being pressed, the vote is going to the lotus (BJP symbol)."

 

"This happened with at least 10-12 people. Later on, after more than 200 votes voted, the machine developed a problem. So, I told the election officers that I have an objection as there is an issue being pointed out. The officer then checked and before any button could be pressed, the vote went to the lotus symbol. All this happened before the officers. Therefore, they closed that machine and replaced it with a new one," Deepak Pawar said.

"Our question is what about over 200 votes that had been polled before this?" Deepak Pawar said.

Kirti Nalwade, who was in charge of the Assembly constituency of Koregaon on behalf of the election commission, said, "The election went on smoothly till 5 pm. Around 291 votes were polled when the machine developed a technical snag. Our engineers were there and the machine was changed immediately."

On the issue of votes being transferred to the BJP, Nalawade said that no one had complained about this.

"Seventy per cent voting had already taken place when the person spoke about it. There is a provision for test mail and for that, a written complaint has to be given in the form of an affidavit which is available with us. We asked him to sign and give it to us so that we can check. However, he refused to do so," Nalawade said.

 

Before polling started at 7 am, a mock poll was held by the election officials present at the booth before all the polling agents.

Polling agents from each party was present when each button is pressed of the EVM machines to check whether slips of those very parties are appearing whose buttons are pressed.

After the polling agents were satisfied with the mock poll, everyone of them signed the documents and Depak Pawar, who complained about the issue, too had signed it.

Nalawade insisted that the machine developed a snag because of humid weather and thus had to be changed.

"The machine was changed in the evening after the error was detected. It happened not just in that village, but in the entire assembly constituency where there were 24 VVPATs changed. Some VVPATs were not printing paper or the slips were not falling," Nalawade said.

"It has been raining heavily for the last two days so these machines developed some technical snags and thus were changed," Nalawade said.

 

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