Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa on Monday said Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh has been directed to inquire into a voter’s complaint about mismatch between his vote and the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machine. Voting in all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi was held on Sunday.
“CEO Delhi has been asked to inquire,” Lavasa tweeted in response to the voter, who criticised the poll panel.
“My VVPAT machine (Delhi, Matiala, Booth 96) printed the wrong symbol although the EVM machine red bulb glowed correctly,” Milan Gupta tweeted earlier in the day. “I complained to the presiding officer who directed me to nodal officer who then directed me to sector officer. All of them asked me not to complain!”
Gupta said the officers asserted that he would be arrested under Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code, which carries a penalty for furnishing false information to any public servant. “I found that strange because that section does not provide for arrest without court orders,” he added.
Gupta said the officers told him he would have to file a complaint under Annexure 6, which no one has ever done before. The voter also alleged that he was asked to agree to a test vote. “That was strange as I told them I would not reveal my secret vote cast earlier in the test vote and pressing any other button is not a test,” Gupta said. “He [one of the officers] said if you complain you have to reveal your secret vote. I asked him to say that in writing.”
Gupta said the officer refused to put it in writing, but let him cast a test vote. He alleged that voting was not stopped during the test vote, and it had to be conducted in front of everybody.
The complainant said that after he pressed a random button, as instructed by the officer, he was told that he had “proved himself wrong”. Gupta was taken to the police station after the officer asked the police to arrest him. The police personnel kept calling the polling officers to find out what to do with him, he added. Gupta claimed he was “illegally detained” for four hours before being dropped back home.
“All of this was so illegal & is now on record,” he added. “The test vote is not mandatory as per rule 49MA but they made it so. Test vote was not my earlier secret vote but they assumed it to be so to declare me wrong. The voting was supposed to stop after my complaint as per rules.” He said the officers pressured him to declare his secret vote.
Gupta wondered whether his vote would be counted despite the written complaint. “Will the VVPAT machine be correct, if the test vote was conducted on any random button pressed on EVM?” he asked. “I hope someone out there is worried about these questions if they claim to care about democracy.”