Lok Satta

Thursday, 09 April 2009 15:40

Election Commission concedes Lok Satta plea

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The Election Commission of India today conceded the plea of the Lok Satta Party that candidates contesting elections should be entitled to appoint as polling agents in a polling station even those who are registered voters in neighboring wards/divisions (in urban areas) or neighboring revenue villages (in rural areas) of the same constituency.

 

The ECI was responding to a petition the Lok Satta filed in the High Court.The ECI’s instructions currently mandate that a person appointed as an electoral candidate’s polling agent for a polling station should be a registered voter in the same polling station area. Questioning the instructions, the Lok Satta pointed out that in many pockets, the local landlords, slum-lords or criminal elements evoke fear among voters, and victimize the polling agents of rival parties. Even polling personnel are intimidated or coerced into submission. As a result, there will be no fair polling. In particular, this requirement would prove impractical to smaller, newly-formed parties or independent candidates and heavily favors entrenched parties and candidates. In turn, it would prove to be counter- productive to the very intent behind the appointment of polling agents on behalf of the electoral candidates. This requirement runs against the ECI’s mandate of providing a level playing field to all electoral candidates – the foundation of free-and-fair elections.