The Election Commission must disclose the total number of voters who exercised their franchise in the first two phases of the Lok Sabha election, India’s former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said on Sunday, according to The New Indian Express.

The Election Commission had released the final voter turnout percentages for the first two phases of polling – held on April 19 and April 26 – on April 30. However, it did not specify the actual number of electors or citizens who cast their ballots in each constituency.

Quraishi emphasised that this data should have been disclosed within 24 hours of polling, pointing out that this had been the norm before the 2014 general election. The poll panel’s failure to publish this information cannot be justified on any grounds, he said.

“The non-disclosure of the number of voters by the EC is unacceptable,” the former Election Commission chief said. “It is important to have the absolute number of voters for transparency.”

Similarly, Jagdeep Chhokar, founder of the non-profit organisation Association for Democratic Reforms, also said that voting percentages had no meaning without information about the total number of voters.

“There is no conceivable reason for the EC not to publish the number of voters,” he said, according to The New Indian Express. “How can they calculate percentage unless they know the numbers? They took 11 days [after the first phase of the election] to publish the voter percentage.”

While the first phase of the Lok Sabha election recorded a turnout of 66.14%, the second phase recorded a figure of 66.71%, the poll panel said on April 30. The final figures were substantially higher than the provisional polling estimates for the two phases released by the Election Commission earlier.

The Opposition has questioned the poll panel on both aspects, the delay in releasing the final data and the alleged discrepancies in the final figures as compared to what was reported on the voting days.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury also asked why the absolute numbers of voters in each parliamentary constituency had not been disclosed. “Apprehensions of manipulation of results continue as total voter numbers can be altered at the time of counting,” he had said on April 30.

Also read: Why are concerns being raised about the Election Commission’s voter turnout data?