In a shocking development, a VVPAT machine in Chennai was found to be under use for 50 minutes after the polling of the Tamil Nadu assembly election was closed and the machine had also carried 15 votes, which has now warranted the Election Commission to consider conducting the re-election in one of the key constituencies in Chennai. The incident has come to light on Friday, exactly three days after the assembly polls.
According to reports, a Chennai Corporation Official in Velachery was found carrying a VVPAT machine on his motorbike on April 6, hours after the polling drive was curtailed down. He was carrying two EVMs and a control unit with him. When it had drawn the attention of the election commission, the EVMs and VVPAT were recovered from him and put under inspection. It then came to the revelation that the VVPAT machine had 15 votes in it and was used for 50 minutes on April 6 after the polling was over.
The incident, which had happened amid the tight security and surveillance, had stirred massive outrage across the state with the opposition parties had demanded the election commission to conduct re-polling at a polling station in Velachery where the EVMs and VVPAT belonged to. When it was initially said that the corporation official was just transporting the machine, Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo has on Friday admitted that the machine was used for 50 minutes and it had 15 votes.
Addressing the reporters concerning the incident on Friday, Sahoo said that the transportation of the EVMs, the control unit, and the VVPAT machine in a motorbike was in violation of the polling norms. He stated that a report on the incident has been sent to the Election Commission of India for a further course of action. He highlighted that of the two EVMs, a control unit, and a VVPAT machine, only VVPAT was used for polling and it was not used after the polling of 15 votes after it had developed a technical glitch.
Sahoo asserted that strict action will be taken against anyone who was found violating the norms. He further added that the Election Commission will consider conducting the re-polls in that particular booth in Velachery if the Election Commission's verification of booth documents and polling account sent by the Election Officer shows discrepancies.
His assertion has come when the opposition parties demanded the electoral body to conduct the re-poll. According to reports, the preliminary investigation by the District Electoral Officer (DEO) shows that the EVMs were not used in polling and the machines belonged to the DAV school booth in Velachery. However, the Chief Electoral Officer has sent a report to the Election Commission of India under the grounds that transporting the polling machines on a two-wheeler is a violation of the electoral norms.
After the incident came to light that troubled the Chennai Corporation, the civic body had suspended the official for carrying the machine on his bike and two other staff members who were involved in the incident. Velachery is one of the crucial assembly seats in Chennai and there was a five-front race in this constituency. While ADMK has fielded Ashok as its candidate in Velachery, Congress leader Haasan contested in the DMK alliance, former bureaucrat Santhosh Babu contested in Velachery from Makkal Needhi Maiam, Keerthana from Naam Tamilar Katchi, and Chandrabose from AMMK.