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Polling Officials Forget to Delete Fake Votes, Decide to Erase Real Ones to Hide Their Tracks

After being accused of manipulating Electronic Voting Machines, the Election Commission is now investigating a new fuck-up in Himachal Pradesh that compromises the democratic process.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
Polling officials India delete votes
A member of election duty staff arranging the EVMs. Photo: Amit Dave/Reuters

We’re just a day away from finding out who will lead us into the five-year future and the fuck-ups are already underway. As a hectic season being described as India’s most crucial election reaches its finish line, issues related to it still seem to be making a run for it.

Just a few days ago, the Election Commission (EC) of India was accused of manipulating Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Protests took place across Uttar Pradesh, one of the most crucial electoral areas, with the opposition alleging that these EVMs were changed to be in favour of the BJP. But even as the EC dismisses these claims, there’s a new mess that makes you think whether going to the polling booth and waiting in the excruciating heat was even worth it.

Now, 20 election officials in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh are being investigated for deleting votes registered in the EVMs in a bid to cover up the fact that they had forgotten to delete the mock poll data. As per the guidelines of the EC, it is important to conduct a mock vote before the actual process begins to ensure that the machines are running and registering votes smoothly. At least 50 test votes are cast, after which they’re to be deleted so the election can start off with a clean slate. Except that the five presiding officers and 15 polling officers in Himachal Pradesh kinda forgot that they were supposed to do this. When they realised just how much they had fucked up in the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections, they started to delete actual votes to cover it up. But people caught them in the act, and now they’re in a heap of trouble. This happened at Chowk, Salvahan and Harvahni villages in Mandi Lok Sabha constituency, Kashmirpur village of Solan district in Shimla constituency and Bhager in Bilaspur district of Hamirpur constituency.

Now, the EC is promising to take action against these officers, with suspension being the most likely outcome. But something similar happened in Tamil Nadu a few weeks ago and their quick fix was to conduct a manual counting of the votes instead of relying on those registered electronically. So as we eagerly wait to find out who will be India’s next Prime Minister, it’s important to keep in mind that the entire electoral process has been through some real shit. And just like an ex who cheats on you and then expects the relationship to go on as is, there’s a lot to think about before we can forgive and forget.

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