Election Commission files affidavit in SC against disclosure of Form 17C

Election Commission files affidavit in SC against disclosure of Form 17C

New Delhi. The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court, saying that the disclosure of voter turnout statistics derived from Form 17C, a record of votes cast in each polling station may confuse voters because it would also include postal ballot counts.

In an affidavit submitted to the top court, the ECI argued that it was not legally permissible to release the definitive, verified voter turnout data from every polling place. It further stated that posting Form 17C to the website might result in trouble and that there's a chance that photographs could be altered, which could lead to "widespread discomfort and mistrust".

ECI contended that there is no legal right that can be claimed towards publishing final authenticated data of voter turnout.

It is worth to be noted that the move by the ECI has come after an NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) filed an application seeking disclosure of final authenticated data of voter turnout in all polling stations, including number of votes. NGO also alleged inordinate delay in publishing the voter turn data of the first two phases released by ECI.

Consequences of making Form 17C public

According to ECI, the decision to make Form 17C data public can indeed be a contentious issue, especially in the context of elections. One of the main worries is that the raw data contained in Form 17C might not be easily interpretable for the general public. Without proper context or explanation, voters might misinterpret the information or draw incorrect conclusions, which could undermine trust in the electoral process.

Additionally, releasing such detailed data could open up opportunities for misinformation or manipulation. If not presented in a clear and accessible manner, the data could be exploited by various parties to sow doubt or confusion among voters.

Ultimately, finding the right balance between transparency and ensuring clarity for voters is crucial. The poll body must carefully weigh the benefits of transparency against the potential risks of confusion and misinformation before deciding on whether to make Form 17C data public.

What is Form 17C?

Form 17C typically contains crucial information related to the counting of votes, including the number of votes secured by each candidate and other relevant details. While transparency is generally valued in democratic processes, there are valid concerns about how releasing this data could potentially confuse voters.


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