Training for POs
Handbook for Presiding Officers of polling stations where EVM are used.
- The objective of this Handbook is to provide the information and guidance to perform your duties as a Presiding Officer in the best manner possible. However, this Handbook is neither as an exhaustive compendium in all aspects nor a substitute reference for the various provisions of election law related to the conduct of poll. You should, therefore, wherever necessary, refer to those legal provisions which are reproduced in Annexures I and II.
- You have been appointed as Presiding Officer under the provisions of Section 26 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and under the provisions of Section 28A thereof. You, along with other officers designated for the conduct of any election, shall be deemed to be on deputation to the Election Commission for the period commencing on and from the date of the notification calling for such election and ending with date of declaration of the results of such election. Accordingly such officers shall during that period be subject to the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission. As a Presiding officer, you are the most important officer at the polling station. A very important role has been assigned to you to perform at the polling station in the conduct of poll. You enjoy full legal power to control the proceedings in the polling station under your charge. At the same time you are fully responsible for all the activities taking place at the polling station. It is your primary duty and responsibility to ensure a free and fair poll at your polling station. It is therefore, necessary that you are fully conversant with the law and procedure and the relevant instructions and directions of the Commission in relation to the conduct of elections.
- Electronic Voting Machines are now used at each and every polling station. You, as the Presiding Officer at the polling station should acquaint yourself fully with the latest position on the rules and procedures prescribed for the conduct of poll by voting machines. You should also thoroughly familiarise yourself with each step to be taken in the conduct of poll at the polling station, and with the operation of voting machine. A slight mistake or lapse or wrong application of the law or rules or inadequate knowledge of various functions of the voting machine may vitiate the poll at your polling station.
- Brief introduction to voting machines
- The Electronic Voting Machines are being manufactured by two Central Government undertakings, namely, Electronics Corporation of India Limited, Hyderabad and Bharat Electronics Limited, Bangalore. There are two models of the Electronic Voting Machines being used for the conduct of election in the country – existing model and upgraded model. There is only one difference, pertaining to the display on the panels of the machines, in the two models, which has been explained in the subsequent chapters of the handbook.
- The Electronic Voting Machine operates on a 7.5 volts battery and can be used anywhere and under any conditions. It is tamperproof, error-free and easy to operate. The Electronic Voting machine consists of two units, namely, Control Unit and Ballot unit. These two units are interconnected, when the voting machine is put in operation, by means of a cable, one end of which is permanently attached to the ballot unit. Both the units of the machine are supplied in two separate carrying cases which are easily portable. The polling information once recorded in the machine is retained in its memory even when the battery is removed.
- As amended in the Conduct of Election (Amendment)Rules, 2013, after rule 49A the proviso is added that a printer with a drop box of such design as approved by the ECI, may be attached to a voting machine for printing a paper trail of the vote, in such constituency or Constituencies or part thereof as the ECI may direct. This instrument is known as the Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). A printer with a drop box is used in addition to the above two units, where the Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is used, if and when ordered by the Commission. In such a case the printer shall also be kept with the balloting unit in the voting compartment and shall be connected to the electronic voting machine in the manner as directed by the Election Commission.
- After the panel containing the name and particulars of the last candidate on the ballot paper for Postal Ballot, EVM Ballot as well as Tender and Braille ballot, there shall be a panel below the last panel with the words 'None of the Above' written therein, for the benefit of those electors who may wish to exercise the option of not voting for any of the candidates in the fray. Those words shall be written in the same language or languages as used in case of names of candidates. The size of the panel shall be the same as in the case of the candidates.
- On the ballot unit, there is provision for display of the ballot paper containing the particulars of the election, the serial numbers and names of contesting candidates and the symbols respectively allotted to them. There is a blue button against the name of each candidate. By pressing this blue button, the voter can record his vote in favour of the candidate of his choice. Alongside the said button, there is also a lamp for each candidate. This lamp will glow red when the vote is recorded. Simultaneously a beep sound will also be heard. One ballot Unit caters upto sixteen buttons. If there are 15 candidates, the last panel will be for NOTA.
- One control unit can record the votes polled by a maximum of 63 candidates. For this purpose four ballot units linked together are connected with one control unit. On the top most portion of the control unit, there is provision for displaying the various information and data recorded in the machine, like the number of contesting candidates, total number of votes polled, votes polled by each candidate, etc. This portion is called, for easy reference, 'Display Section' of the control unit. Below the display section, there is a compartment for fixing the battery, which runs the machine. On the right side of this compartment, there is another compartment in which there is a button for setting the machine for the number of candidates, contesting the particular election. This button is called the 'Cand Set' button and the whole section of the control unit containing these two compartments is called the 'Cand Set Section'. Below the cand set section is the 'Result Section' of the control unit. This section contains (i) 'Close' button on the left side, used for closing the poll, (ii) two buttons in the middle - 'Result I' & 'Result II' for ascertaining separately the result of parliamentary and assembly polls (at present the machine is used for only one poll – either parliamentary or assembly) and (iii) 'Clear' button on the right side, for clearing the data recorded in the machine, when the data is no more required. In the bottom portion of the control unit, there are two buttons - one marked 'Ballot' and other marked 'Total'. By pressing the button 'Ballot', the ballot unit becomes ready to record the vote and by pressing the button 'Total', the total number of votes recorded upto that stage (but without the candidate-wise break up) can be ascertained. This section is known as the 'Ballot Section' of the control unit. (In the upgraded model the 'Result II' button has been replaced with 'Print' button, by pressing which a printout of the detailed result can be obtained. For this purpose a special gadget is to be attached to the Control Unit.)
- Legal provisions regarding conduct of poll
- Broad outlines of duties
- You should acquaint yourself fully with the latest rules and procedures prescribed for the conduct of poll by voting machines (referred to above in para 1.1 above).
- You should familiarise yourself thoroughly with the operation of the voting machine and the functions of various buttons and switches provided therein. (This has been described in details under para 2 titled 'Brief introduction to voting machines' above).
- You must keep in ready possession all relevant instructions of the Commission.
- You must not miss any of the training classes, lest you should find yourself groping in the dark for the various important instructions.
- While collecting election materials, you should ensure that all items have been handed over to you as per the list supplied along with the material. The most important items are (i) electronic voting machine (ballot unit control unit and printer with drop box ,if ordered), (ii) tendered ballot papers,(iia) Braille Ballot (iii) Register of Voters (Form 17A), (iv) marked copy of electoral roll (v) Form 17C Format of the Presiding Officer's Diary and (vi) extra copies of the roll, green paper seals, strip seals, special tags, Address Tags statutory forms, sealing wax and indelible ink, ASD, AIS and CSV list.
- On arrival at the polling station, you should have a clear idea of the arrangements to be made for setting up of the polling station in a proper way especially to secure secrecy of voting, regulation of queue of voters, protection of poll proceedings free from outside interference, etc. On arrival at the dispersal centre you should also ensure whether your polling station has CPF or police arrangement. Also whether there is Micro- Observer and Digital Camera/Web casting Video Camera deployment at the polling station.
- Before the commencement of poll, the voting machine has to be demonstrated to the polling agents, who are present at the polling station to satisfy them that no votes are already recorded therein and that the machine is in perfect working condition. For these purposes, a mock poll shall be compulsorily conducted by letting the polling agents record a few votes at random for each of the contesting candidates and tallying the result thereafter. The Commission's latest guideline stipulates that at least 50 votes will be cast in mock poll and at least one vote will be cast against each candidate.
- (viii) According to the Commission's instructions, if there is no mock poll at a polling station, there shall be no poll at that polling station.
- After holding the mock poll, the votes recorded at such mock poll must be cleared from the control unit of the voting machine as well as from the Printer and drop box so that no data relating to the mock poll remains in the memory of the machine. The control unit of the voting machine and printer with drop box then must be sealed and secured by fixing the green paper seal(s) and special tag in the space provided thereof and the strip seal. The procedure for this sealing is explained in detail in Chapters XIII and XIV.
- (x) The poll must commence at the hour fixed for such commencement by the Election Commission. Before commencing the poll, the candidates or their agents, who are present at the polling station and the polling officers should be briefed about the maintenance of secrecy of vote. The provisions of Section 128 of the Representation of the people Act, 1951 should be read out and brought to their notice.
- (xi) At the commencement of poll, you have to read out the declaration aloud to the hearing of all persons present in Polling Station and sign on the declaration and obtain signature of such Polling Agents as are present and willing to affix the same. If any Polling Agent declines to affix his signature the Presiding Officer should record the names of such Polling Agent without declaration and make a declaration in a prescribed form about the demonstration of the voting machine, marked copy of the electoral roll and the Register of Voters and obtain signature of candidates or their polling agents
- According to the directions of the Commission all electors who have been issued with Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPICs) should produce those cards to exercise their franchise at all general and bye-elections. In absence of EPIC of the elector, the identity shall be established by means of any of the alternative documents prescribed by the Commission, including the voters slip;s issued by the Electoral Officer. Further, if an elector produces an Electoral Identity Card which has been issued by the Electoral Registration Officer of another Assembly Constituency, such cards shall also be taken into account provided the name of that elector finds place in the electoral roll pertaining to the polling station, where the elector has turned up for voting.
- The identity of anelector should be properly verified by the First Polling Officer with reference to his entry in the electoral roll, the Elector's Photo Identity Card, the photograph of the elector on the Photo Electors Rolls (If the polling station is one, where Photo Electors Rolls have been supplied) or with reference to any of the other alternative document(s) prescribed by the Election Commission of India. The Election Commission issues directions from time to time prescribing various other documents with reference to which the identity of an election can be verified. The unofficial identity slip carried by an elector cannot be accepted as a proof of his identity.
- Last four digits of the EPIC/Identity documents produced by the elector should be entered in the 'Remarks' column of the Register of Voters (Form 17-A)
- After an elector has been identified, the entry relating to the elector in the marked copy of the electoral roll should be underlined. In addition, if the elector is a female elector, a tick mark (✓ ) will also be put on the left side of entry.
- After an elector is identified with reference to his entry in the electoral roll and with the help of the document(s) prescribed by the Election Commission of India, the left forefinger should be marked with the indelible ink by the Second Polling Officer. (The method of marking the left hand forefinger has been explained in Chapter VIII.)
- The serial number (and not the name) of the elector as given in the marked copy of the electoral roll should be noted in the Register of Voters (Form 17A).
- The signature or thumb impression of the elector should be obtained on the Register of Voters (Form 17A) before he is allowed to record his vote. If an elector refuses to put his signature or thumb impression on the Register of Voters, he shall not be permitted to vote and an entry 'Refused to vote' will be made in the 'Remarks' column of the Register of Voters. You will have to sign below such entry. However, if an elector after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form 17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decides not to record his vote, a remark to this effect – 'Refused to vote/ Left without voting' shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by you and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark. In such case it shall not be necessary to make any change in the serial number of the elector or of any succeeding elector in column 1 of the register of voters (Form 17A). If the "Ballot" button on the control unit has already been pressed to release voting on the ballot unit by a voter and he refuses to vote, either the Presiding Officer/third Polling Officer, whoever is in- charge of the control unit, should direct the next voter straightaway to proceed to the voting compartment to record his vote. In the alternative the Officer in- charge of the control unit should put the 'Power' switch in the rear compartment of the control unit to 'OFF' position, and then again to 'ON' position, press the 'Ballot' button and direct the next voter to proceed to the voting compartment to record his vote.
- (xix) In another eventuality, when the "Ballot" button on the control unit has been pressed to release voting on the ballot unit and the last voter refuses to vote, the Presiding Officer/third Polling Officer, whoever is in-charge of the control unit shall put the 'Power' switch in the rear compartment of the control unit to 'OFF' position and disconnect the ballot unit(s) from the control unit. After disconnecting the ballot unit(s) from the control unit the 'Power' switch should again be put 'ON'. Now the 'Busy' lamp will go off and the 'Close' button will become functional to close the poll.
- After the signature or thumb impression of the elector has been obtained on the Register of Voters and his left hand forefinger has been marked with the indelible ink, he shall be issued a voter's Slip (in the prescribed form) showing the serial number at which the entry relating to him has been made in the Register of voters.
- The electors shall be allowed to record their votes in the voting machine on the basis of the Voters' slips strictly in the same order in which they have been entered in the register of voters.
- Where printer for paper trial is used, the electors shall be able to view through the transparent window of the printer, the printed paper slip showing the serial number, name and the symbol of the candidate to he has cast his vote before such slips gets cut and drops in drop box of the printer. If an elector after having recorded his vote under Rule 49M alleges that the paper slip generated by the printer has shown the name or symbol of a candidate other than the one he voted for, under Rule 49MA, the Presiding Officer shall obtain a written declaration from the elector as to the allegation, after warning the elector about the consequence of making a false declaration. If the elector gives the written declaration, the Presiding officer shall make a second entry related to that elector in form 17A, and permit the elector to record a test vote in the voting machine in his presence and in the presence of the candidates or polling agents who may be present in the polling station and observe the paper slip generated by the printer. If the allegation is found true, the Presiding Officer shall report the facts immediately to the RO, stop further recording of votes in that voting machine and act as per the direction that may be given by the RO. If, however the allegation is found to be false and the paper slip so generated matches with the test vote recorded by the elector, then, the Presiding Officer shall make a remark to that effect against the second entry related to that elector in for 17A mentioning the serial No. and name of the candidate for whom such test vote has been recorded and obtain the signature or thump impression of the elector.
- If you consider an elector to be much below the minimum age of voting, i.e., 18 years, but are otherwise satisfied about his identity and the fact of inclusion of his name in the electoral roll, you should obtain a declaration from him about his age, in the form of declaration in Annexure X.
- It is your foremost duty to go on recording the relevant events as and when they occur in the Presiding Officer's Diary.
- It may happen sometimes that you may have a suspicion or reason to suspect that the ballot unit kept in the screened voting compartment is not functioning properly or that an elector who has entered the voting compartment is tampering with or otherwise interfering with the balloting unit by inserting an object or fixing cello-tape or match stick or chewing gum on the blue button or has remained inside the voting compartment for unduly long period. You have a right under rule 49 to enter the voting compartment in such cases an to take such steps as may be considered necessary by you to ensure that the balloting unit is not tampered with or interfered with in any way and that the poll progresses smoothly and orderly. However, be careful that, whenever you enter the voting compartment, do not enter the compartment alone. You should permit and take one or two or more polling agents present at the polling station to accompany you.
- If any incident takes place at the polling station and is not reported by you, but reported from any other source, the Commission may take a serious view and initiate action against you.
- You have to regulate the proceedings in the polling station for peaceful and smooth conduct of poll. You require much tact for this purpose, but at the same time you should be firm and impartial.
- You have to periodically verify the total number of votes polled till a particular hour by pressing 'Total' button.
- You must close the poll at the hour fixed for the purpose by the Election Commission, even if the commencement of poll was delayed for any reason. However, all voters present at the polling station at the closing hour of poll shall be allowed to vote even if that means the continuing of poll for some more time. It should also be ensured that after the closing hour of poll nobody joins the queue of voters. For this purpose, you should distribute numbered slips, signed by you, to all voters standing in the queue starting such distribution of slips from the last person standing in the queue. After all electors have casted their votes and no one is left, then the Polling Officer shall put a red line after entry of last sign there giving date and time (vide ROs Book Para 40.4)
- (xxx) At the close of poll, you are required to prepare an 'Account of Votes Recorded' in Part I of Form 17C and obtain the signature of the polling agents in the column specified for the purpose in that Form. Authenticated copies of such account of votes recorded are required to be given to the polling agent of each candidate present at the polling station. You are also required to make a declaration regarding furnishing of such copies to the candidates' agents in the form prescribed by the Commission.
- After the close of poll, the voting machine and all election papers should be sealed and secured in the manner prescribed by the Election Commission. Candidates or their agents present at the polling station shall also be allowed to affix their seals, if they so desire, on the voting machine and the election papers in addition to your seals. You should follow carefully the relevant instructions about the sealing and securing of voting machines and election papers so that no mistake is committed.
- It is your personal responsibility to hand over the voting machine and all election papers duly sealed and secured to the officer responsible for the collection thereof, under proper receipt.
- Your duties in brief at various stages are given in Annexure III under five different heads for your ready reference and convenience.
- Check Memo
The provisions of the law which have a bearing on your duties as a Presiding Officer are reproduced in Annexures I and II.
While detailed directions and instructions are contained in the various Chapters of this Handbook, some of the salient and important aspects of your duties are given below for your guidance:
To ensure that you have fulfilled the various statutory requirements in connection with the election, the Election commission has drawn up a CHECK MEMO for you, which is given in Annexure IV. The said CHECK MEMO should be properly maintained by you.
On the day previous to the day of poll or on the day of departure for the polling station you will be supplied with all the election materials, a list of which is set out in Annexure V. Before leaving for your polling station, make sure that you have received all the items.
Checking of voting machine:
Check, in particular, the following:
- That the control unit and the ballot unit(s) (and printer with drop box, if ordered) of the voting machine given to you are the same which are meant for use at your polling station. This shall be checked with reference to the address tags attached to the said units as the number and name of the polling station shall be indicated by the Returning Officer on each of those address tags.
- That the 'Cand Set Section' of control unit is duly sealed and the address tag is firmly attached thereto.
- That the battery installed in the 'Cand Set Section' of the control unit is fully operational. This may be checked by setting the Power Switch provided in the rear compartment to `ON' position. After the said checking, the power switch must be set to `OFF' position.
That you have been supplied with the requisite number of ballot units and
the ballot papers are duly fixed under the Ballot Paper Screen in each of
them. The number of ballot units to be supplied to you will depend upon
the number of contesting candidates in your constituency. If the
number of contesting candidates is between 2 and 15, only one ballot unit
will be supplied and the slide switch seen through the window at the right
side top of the ballot unit will have been set by the Returning Officer at
position '1'. If the number of contesting candidates is between 16 and 31,
you will be supplied with two ballot units. On the first ballot unit in which
the abovementioned slide switch will be set to position `1' the ballot paper
will contain the names of the candidates at Sl. Nos., 1 to 15 in the list of
contesting candidates. The second ballot unit will display the second sheet
of the ballot paper containing the names of contesting candidates from 17
onwards (and upto 31) and the slide switch in that unit will be set to the
position `2'. Likewise, three ballot units will be supplied if the number of
contesting candidates is between 33 and 47 and there will be four such
units if the number of candidates exceeds 47 and is upto 63. In the third
ballot unit the ballot paper will contain the names of candidates from Sl.
Nos. 33 onwards (upto 47) and its slide switch will be set to the position
`3'. The fourth ballot unit will display on the ballot paper fixed therein the
names of candidates from serial No. 49 onwards (upto 63) and its slide
switch will show the position `4'. Ensure that the "slide switch(s)" on
the ballot unit(s) has/have been secured with the help of transparent
The slide switch has markings 1, 2, 3 and 4. The switch should be kept in position '1', '2', '3' or '4'as explained above. The position of the switch can be seen through the small window at the right side top of the Ballot unit.
The position of the slide switch in the upgraded model will be seen as shown below:-
If you find any discrepancy in the fixing of the Slide switch, immediately bring it to the notice of Sector Magistrate/Returning Officer. But in any case you or your Polling Officers should not fiddle with the Slide switch.
- That the ballot papers and slide switches on each of the ballot units have been correctly fixed/set as explained in the preceding item. It must also be ensured that the ballot papers as fixed on the ballot units are properly aligned and that the name and symbol of each candidate is in line with his corresponding lamp and button and the thick lines dividing the panels of the candidates on the ballot paper are in line with the corresponding grooves on the ballot unit.
- That the candidates' blue buttons which have been unmasked and are visible on the ballot units are equal to the number of contesting candidates, and that the remaining buttons, if any, have been masked.
- That each of the ballot units is duly sealed and secured at two places, i.e. at right top and right bottom portions, with the seals of the Returning Officer, and that the address tags are firmly attached thereto.
Checking of Polling materials
- that 2 bigger phials of 10 cc of indelible ink have been provided in the kit and there is sufficient quantify of ink in each of the two phials supplied to you since now the ink has to be put on the left hand forefinger as a line from the top of the nail to the bottom of first joint of the finger and that the stamp pads are not dry;
that all the three copies (in the case of simultaneous poll five copies) of the
relevant part of the electoral roll are complete and identical in every
respect and, in particular, that-
- the relevant part given to you pertains to the area for which the polling station has been set up and that it is complete in all respects alongwith the supplements, in every copy;
- all deletions of names and corrections of clerical or other errors as per the supplement have been duly incorporated in all the copies;
- all the pages in each working copy of the roll have been serially numbered from No.1 onwards.
- the printed serial numbers of the voters are not corrected with ink or otherwise and no new numbers are substituted for them;
- the marked copy of the electoral roll (copy of the electoral roll to be used for 'marking' the names of electors, who are allowed to vote) does not contain any remarks other than those used for issuing postal ballot papers (such as 'PB' 'CSV' and that the deletions appearing in the supplement, if any, appended to the draft roll as well as the supplement prepared after disposal of claims and objections before final publication, have been reflected in the reprinted mother roll by strikethrough method in the electoral roll of eight columns without photograph, and with the word "D E L E T E D" superimposed on the concerned elector detail box in case of photo electoral roll or carrying out corrections or inserting the unique Nos. of the EPICs issued upto the time of reprinting, and that while doing so no other entry is either deleted or altered or omitted;
- the electoral roll is duly signed by one of the AEROs and one more official
- A certificate signed in ink by the RO/ARO in the following format has been attached on the top of one copy of the roll to be used as Marked copy:-
- that along with the marked copy of the electoral roll the referral image sheets of those electors, whose EPICs were prepared during the EPIC campaign conducted to increase the photo coverage in the Photo Electoral Rolls but the images could not be printed in the Photo Electoral Rolls, have been given to you to facilitate the working at the polling station to identify the electors. The referral image sheets would be having Sr. No., name of elector, relation name and stamp size photograph of the elector. In case of any doubt raised by the polling agent, they can also be shown referral image sheet (if asked for by them) so that transparency in the process may be maintained on the day of poll. A sample of the referral image sheet is placed at ANNEXURE-XVI at P.78
- that along with the marked copy of the electoral roll the list of absentee, shifted voters, if any, have been given to you to facilitate the working at the polling station to identify the electors.
- that the tendered ballot papers supplied to you are for the same constituency in which the polling station assigned to you is situated and that they are not defective in any respect. You should also check that their serial numbers tally with the details supplied to you.
- If you find any voting machine or any polling material defective in any respect, you must immediately bring such defect to the notice of the officer in-charge of distribution of voting machines/polling materials or the Returning Officer for necessary remedial action.
- Check also that photocopies of specimen signatures of the contesting candidates and their election agents are also given to you. This will help you in verifying genuineness of the signature of the candidate/his election agent in the appointment letter of polling agent(s) at the polling station.
- Similarly, there may not be sufficient time left for you to record your vote and return it to the Returning Office well in time before counting. Applications from voters on election duty to vote by postal ballot are required by law to be made at least seven days or such shorter period as the Returning Officer may allow before the day of poll or the first day of the poll in the constituency.
- Polling materials
- Photo Electoral Rolls (PER) are available in all States and Union Territories now. This has been done with a view to prevent impersonation on the day of poll.
- The Photo Electoral Roll contains the photographs of the electors in addition to all the information presently incorporated in the existing rolls as per sample format. This simplifies the process of verification of elector's identity at the polling station on the day of poll. A sample of the Photo Electoral Roll apart from the Title page, Part Header, etc., is annexed at ANNEXTURE XVIII.
- As per the directions of the Commission the EPIC is used for identification of electors at the polling stations. However, in the absence of the EPIC, the identity shall be established by means of any of the alternative documents including Photo Voter Slip prescribed by the Commission. Separate order for this purpose will be issued by the Commission for each election.
- In so far as the production of EPIC for verification of the elector's identity is concerned, it may be clarified that if an elector produces an Electoral Photo Identity Card, which has been issued by the Electoral Registration Officer of another assembly constituency, such card shall also be taken into account provided the name of that elector finds place in the electoral roll pertaining to the polling station where the elector has turned up for voting. But in such cases, it should be ensured that the elector does not vote at more than one place by thoroughly checking the left hand forefinger of the elector to see that there is no indelible ink mark thereon, and by applying the indelible ink on the left forefinger properly while allowing him to vote.
- The Election commission has directed that identification of overseas electors at the time of casting of votes at polling station shall be done only on the basis of original passports produced by them.
Persons entitled to enter the Polling Stations
In addition to the electors assigned to your polling station, only the following
persons can be admitted into the Polling Station:-
- Polling Officers;
- Each candidate, his election agent and one duly appointed polling agent of each candidate at a time;
- Media persons authorised by the Commission;
- Public servants on duty in connection with election;
- Observers appointed by the Commission;
- Micro observers, Videographers/ photographers/ staff for webcasting in the case of a critical/sensitive Polling Station;
- A child in arms accompanying an elector;
- A person accompanying a blind or an infirm voter who cannot move without help; and
- Such other persons as you may from time to time admit for the purpose of identifying voters or otherwise assisting you in taking the poll.
- The Returning Officers have been asked to issue identity cards to the contesting candidates bearing their photographs. In case a necessity arises, you may ask for its production when they visit the polling station. Similarly, the election agents of the candidates can be asked to produce the duplicate copy of their appointment letter, which is attested by the Returning Officer and also bears the photograph of the election agent.
- You should note that the term "Public servant on duty in connection with election" does not normally include police officers. Such officers, whether in uniform or in plain clothes, should not, as a general rule, be allowed to enter inside the polling booth. You may, however, call them in occasionally for the maintenance of law and order or some similar purpose, whenever the necessity arises. Their presence in the polling booth without any compelling reason has on occasions given rise to complaints by some candidates or parties who have alleged that their agents had been overawed by unnecessary show of force.
- Similarly, security personnel, if any, accompanying an elector or candidate or his election agent or polling agent should also not be allowed to enter the polling station except the security personnel for the Z+ protectee, that too only a single plain clothed security personnel with concealed arms.
- You should also note that the above expression, "Public servant on duty in connection with election" does not also include the Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers of the Union and the States. The Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers of the Union and the States, who have been given security cover at the State expense are not allowed to function as polling agents, as they can neither be allowed to enter the polling station alongwith their security personnel nor their lives can be put to risk by allowing them to enter the polling station without any security cover. As per standing instructions, the Security personnel accompanying Ministers or political functionaries, who enter the polling station in their capacity as candidates for elections, shall not be allowed entry inside the polling station. They can wait standing at the door of the polling station, but shall not, in any circumstances do any act amounting to interfere in the conduct of poll.
- Entry of persons should be strictly regulated as detailed above, otherwise, the smooth and orderly conduct of poll may be vitiated. You should allow only three or four electors to enter the polling station at a time.
- If you have a reasonable doubt about the presence of any person, about whose credentials you have a reasonable suspicion, in the polling booth, you can have him searched, if necessary, even though the person concerned may be in possession of a valid authority letter to enter the polling booth.
- In the performance of your duties, you are only bound by the instructions of the Election Commission. You are not to take orders from or show any favour to your official superiors or political leaders including Ministers. Even in the matter of requests for entry into the polling booth from these, you should allow them only if they are in possession of a valid authority letter issued by the Election Commission.
- A village officer or other officer or a woman attendant, who has been employed by you for helping you in the identification of electors or to assist you otherwise in taking the poll, should normally, be seated outside the entrance of the polling station. He/she should be admitted into the polling station only when he/she is required for identification of a particular elector or for assisting you for a particular purpose in connection with the taking of the poll. No one inside the polling station should be allowed to influence or try to influence the electors by words or gestures to vote in a particular way.
- In addition to the electors assigned to your polling station, only the following persons can be admitted into the Polling Station:-
- CPF personnel to keep a watch on the proceedings in the polling station
- Production of appointment letters by polling agents
- Attendance of polling agents
- Passes for polling agents
- Seating Arrangement of polling agents in the polling station
- Smoking prohibited inside polling station
- Facilities to press representatives and photographers and videography at the polling station
- Facilities to Observers appointed by Commission
- Additional Information Report on 16 points to be submitted to the Constituency Observer/Returning Officer
- Wearing of badges, etc., inside polling station
It is brought to your notice that the CPF personnel, as per the existing practice, are deployed as static force outside the polling stations. In pursuance to the directions given by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in its order no.9228 of 2003 (Janak Singh Vs. Ram Das Rai and others) dated 11.01.2005, the Commission has directed that in the polling stations with CPF coverage, one CPF Jawan from the CPF party posted at the polling station will be stationed at the entrance of the polling station so that he can keep a watch on the proceedings that are going on inside the polling station, particularly, to ensure that no unauthorized person enters inside the polling station and/or no irregularity is committed either by the polling staff or outsiders in the poll process. However, it should be ensured that this CPF personnel is not located inside the polling station.
The polling agents, who are appointed by contesting candidates, shall be ordinarily resident and electors in the same polling booth or in the alternate from the neighbour polling station falling in the same constituency Such polling agents must have Electors' Photo Identity Cards or any other recognized identification device issued by the Govt or any Govt agency which bears his/her identity.
In case elector, who has been proposed to be appointed as polling agent by the contesting candidate, does not have his Electors' Photo Identity Card, the Returning Officer shall make necessary arrangements for issue of Electors' Photo Identity Card to such elector on written request from the concerned contesting candidate or his election agent. You must ensure that all the polling agents display their Electors' Photo Identity Cards prominently on their persons on the day of poll for easy and quick identification.
Every polling agent must produce before you the appointment letter in Form 10 by which the candidate or his election agent has appointed him. Check that the appointment is for your polling station. After it confirmed that that polling agent has been appointed for your polling station, the polling agent should complete the document and sign the declaration therein in your presence and then deliver it to you before he can be admitted into the polling station. Preserve all such appointment letters and at the end of the poll send them in a cover to the Returning Officer along with other documents.
In case of any doubt about the genuineness of the appointment letter in the said Form 10 of any polling agent presented before you, you should compare the specimen signature of the candidate/his election agent with their specimen signatures as provided by the Returning Officer.
The polling agents of the candidates should be asked to reach the polling station at least one hour before commencement of poll, so that they are present when you are going through the preliminaries. If any part of these preliminaries has already been gone through and missed by any latecomer, the proceedings need not be commenced de novo (from the very beginning) to accommodate any latecomer.
The law does not specify any time limit for the appointment of polling agents and even if a polling agent turns up late at a polling station, he should be allowed to participate in the further proceedings at the polling station.
Each candidate can appoint one polling agent and two relief polling agents at each polling station. However, only one polling agent of a candidate should be allowed inside the polling station at any given point of time. Give every polling agent, who is admitted into the polling station, a permit or entry pass on the authority of which he can come in and go out of the polling station as may be necessary. However it should be ensured that the polling agents do not take the copy of the electoral roll outside the polling station. Further, during the last one hour of the poll, no polling agent shall be allowed to go outside or leave the polling station. As per the standing instructions of the Commission, polling agents shall not be allowed to take cellular phones, cordless phones, wireless sets etc., in any case inside the polling stations. Under no circumstances the agent can be allowed to send slips outside indicating the sl.no of the voters have voted or not Voted.
The set up of polling station should be made in such a way that the polling agents are seated inside the polling stations so that they may see the face of an elector as and when he enters the polling station so that they can challenge the identity of the elector, if needed. They should also be able to watch entire operation inside the polling station including his/her movement to the voting compartment and his/her exit from the polling station after recording his/ her vote. But they should not, in any event, be seated in a place where they have the chance of seeing voter actually recording his/her vote which would compromise secrecy of voting. For this purpose it will be preferable if you give the polling agents seats closely behind the Polling Officer in-charge of marked copy of the electoral roll. Wherever this is not practicable because of the situation of the door for entrance, they may be given seat just opposite the polling officers.
In case of a polling station, which has very small & insufficient space or where the respective constituency is having abnormally large number of contesting candidates warranting the presence of a large number of polling agents, in such cases where polling agents cannot be accommodated, Observer(s) shall be consulted for appropriate advice and consent of the Observer(s) shall be obtained.
According to the latest instructions of the Commission, the seating order at the polling station for the polling agents of candidates shall be guided by the following categories of priorities, namely:-
(i) Candidates of recognised National Parties; (ii) Candidates of recognised State Parties;
(iii) Candidates of recognised State Parties of other states who have been
(iv) Candidates of Registered Unrecognised Parties; and
(v) Independent Candidates permitted to use their reserved symbols in the constituency;
No smoking is allowed inside the polling station. You must, therefore, ensure that nobody smokes inside your polling station. If any of the polling agents desires to smoke, he may be asked to go out of the polling station without causing any dislocation to the polling.
The Commission has already issued instructions for videography of critical events of the election process and also at hypersensitive and sensitive polling stations to the extent possible. In deference to the suggestion of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the Commission has now instructed that videography of the poll proceedings may be carried out inside the polling station also in consultation with the Observer. However, proper care shall be taken to ensure that while doing the videography, the same does not violate the secrecy of vote, i.e., it should be ensured that a voter recording vote should not be videographed. No photography/ videography shall, however, be allowed by the media persons or by any other unauthorized persons inside the polling station, to maintain general order and secrecy of vote.
Similarly, there is no objection to any photographer taking photographs of a crowd of electors lining up outside the polling station subject to the maintenance of peace and order. He should not, however, in any circumstances be allowed to take photographs inside the polling station of the actual process of a person casting his/her vote or the voting compartment. At the same time, nobody will be allowed to take a photograph of an elector recording his/her vote on the Ballot Unit of the voting machine in any circumstances.
Neither the Chief Electoral Officer nor the Returning Officer is empowered to authorise any person who is not an elector or who is not required to assist you in taking the poll, to enter a polling station. Any such person, including publicity officials of the State Government, should not be allowed inside a polling station without a letter of authority from the Commission.
The Commission is now generally appointing its observers at elections. They are statutory authorities appointed by the Commission under Section 20 B of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.9.2 During the day of poll, an observer might visit your polling station. It is quite possible that he may start his round of the constituency with the visit to your polling station and may be present there when you are going through the preliminaries before the commencement of poll. You expected to show him due courtesy and regard when he visits your polling station and should furnish him with such information as he may require from you for the purpose of his report to the Commission. You should also make available to the Observer additional information, which you may be having with you over and above routine information. You are also expected to make available to the Observer/Micro- Observer the list of Absentee, Shifted and Duplicate voter (ASD list) at the polling station. The Observers have already been briefed and directed that they will only observe the poll being taken at your polling station, but will not give you any direction. If, however, he makes any suggestion with a view to providing more convenience to electors or making the poll process at your polling station smoother, you should give due consideration to such suggestion. At the same time, in case, you are facing any particular problem or feeling any difficulty at your polling station, you are at liberty to bring it to his notice, as he might be of help to you in solving that problem or removing that difficulty by bringing the matter to the notice of the Returning Officer or any other concerned authorities for necessary remedial action.
As it is sometimes not possible for the general observer to visit each and every polling station in the constituency allotted to him or to be present at a polling station for full time, the Commission has consciously decided recently to manage the elections at the polling stations with the help of micro- management by deploying micro-observers wherever necessary to strengthen the system of observation,. These micro-observers would directly be working under the control and supervision of the general observer. The micro- observers are expected to reach the polling station one hour before the commencement of the poll, i.e., at 7 O'clock in the morning and remain deployed at the polling station throughout the day. He has to assess the preparedness for the poll and during the poll day he would regularly note down the important points on the pre-printed Proforma, but in no case the micro-observer will act as Presiding Officer or the Polling Officer or give any directions to them. His task is to observe that election process is being carried out in a free and fair manner and there is no vitiation of any kind. In multi- polling station buildings each location will have one micro-observer instead of one micro-observer per polling station. The micro-observer can oscillate between and visit the polling stations within the same campus at frequent intervals. General Observers will be in close touch with them for their requirements of micro- observers relating to their constituencies. Each micro-observer shall have a photo-pass and identity card issued by the DEO to ensure his access to the polling stations.
The Presiding Officer will prepare an additional 16-Point report in the prescribed format about the polling and other incidents/happenings at the polling station till the close of poll and will submit this report to the Constituency Observer/ Returning Officer. This 16-Point report will also have to be deposited by you alongwith other documents at the collection centre. (Prescribed proforma for the 16-Point Report is at Annexure XV). Remember that if you fail to deposit this 16-Point Report alongwith other documents at the collection centre, you will not be relieved of your duties as Presiding Officer at the polling station.
No person should be allowed within the polling station or within 100 metres thereof to wear badges, emblems, etc., bearing the names of candidates or political leaders and/or their symbols or pictorial representation thereof, as it may amount to campaigning for a contesting candidate.
The polling agents may, however, display on their person a badge showing the name of the candidate whose agents they are for the purpose of their immediate identification.
- Persons entitled to enter the Polling Stations
- At the time of dispatch the Presiding Officers shall be advised to compare the machine number inscribed on the metal label and the adhesive sticker and also verify the PS no. indicated on the sticker compared with PS no. mentioned in the address tag before accepting the EVM. Discrepancy if any shall be brought to the notice of the officer in charge of dispatch arrangement and be reconciled.
- The candidates may be advised to share the current ID and machine number of the EVM (both CU/ BU and printer with drop box, if ordered) allotted to the specific PS with their polling agent/agents appointed by them so that they are in a position to inspect the EVM for their satisfaction before the commencement of mock poll on the poll day. The Presiding Officers shall be advised to display the sticker containing the machine number and current ID etc., to the agents present before the commencement of the mock poll. It is relevant to note that as per the existing instructions the presiding officer is supposed to mention the number of CU/CUs used; serial numbers of CU/CUs used; number of BU/BUs used and serial numbers of BU/Bus used and number of Printer with drop box, if VVPAT is ordered at the polling station in the Presiding Officer's Diary. This instruction shall be scrupulously followed.
- In case of replacement of CU or BU due to some reason at any polling station, it has to be done in pairs and the sector officer or any authorized officer, who effects such replacement, shall prepare a special report indicating the machine number and current ID of the existing CU/BU/ printer with drop box and new CU /BU/ printer with drop box separately. The officer shall also mention in the special report, the reason for deployment of the spare CU and ,BU and printer with drop box and the time of such replacement, votes polled in the replaced machine at that point of time and leave one copy of the special report with the Presiding Officer while retaining a copy to be handed over to the R.O.
- Arrival at the Polling Station
- Absence of Polling Officer
- Set up of Polling Stations for single election
- there is enough space for the voters to wait outside the polling station;
- there is separate waiting space for men and women as far as practicable;
- there is separate entrance and exit for voters;
- even if there is only one door to the room housing the polling station, separate entrance and exit can be provided with the help of bamboos and ropes in the middle of the doorway. Make sure that the inside of the voting compartment is sufficiently lighted. If necessary, arrange for a suitable light to be provided for each compartment.
- there is easy flow of voters from the time they enter the polling station till the time they leave it and there is no criss-cross movement within the polling station;
- the polling agents are seated in such a way that they can see the face of an elector as and when he enters the polling station and is identified by the first Polling Officer so that they can challenge the identity of the elector, if need be. They should also be able to see the entire operation at the Presiding Officer's table/the table of third Polling Officer, where the control unit is kept and also see the movement of the elector from the Presiding Officer's table/the table of third Polling Officer, as the case may be, to the voting compartment and his exit from the polling station after recording his vote. But they should not in any event be seated in a place where they have the chance of seeing the ballot unit and the voter actually recording his vote by pressing particular button;
- the seating arrangement of all the Polling Officers should also be such that they are not in a position to see the voter actually recording his vote by pressing particular button;
- the voting compartment should be located at sufficient distance from the table where the control unit shall be kept. The interconnecting cable between the ballot unit and the control unit has a length of approximately five metres. Therefore, the voting compartment should be reasonably distanced. Also, the cable should be so routed that it does not obstruct the movement of voters inside the polling station and they have not to tread or trip over it, but the entire length of the cable should be visible and under no circumstances be concealed under the cloth or under the table. While placing the EVM in the voting compartment, it must be ensured without fail that secrecy of voting is not violated. It must be ensured that the voting compartment has been made only of cardboard and is of the dimension 21"X21"X21" and has not been placed near the window/door. It must be placed away from the window/door.
- Set up of Polling Stations for Simultaneous Election
(a) A layout plan of the polling station where TWO sets of EVMs are to be used for taking simultaneous poll (i.e. for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections together) is given at Annexure VI A. In the layout, only one door for entry and exit of voters has been shown. However, if the room where the polling station has been set up has two doors, the entry and exit may be arranged from different doors.
(b) It may be noted that there shall be TWO separate Voting Compartments – one for keeping the Ballot unit(s)and printer and drop box of the Lok Sabha election and the other to keep the Ballot unit(s) and printer and drop box of the Vidhan Sabha election.
(c) A Notice with bold letters on each of the "Voting Compartments" with the words 'VOTING COMPARTMENT – LOK SABHA ELECTION" and "VOTING COMPARTMENT – VIDHAN SABHA ELECTION' shall be pasted on each of the voting compartments.
(d) Voters have to vote in secrecy and for this purpose, the ballot units are required to be kept in voting compartments. A sample drawing of the voting compartment may be seen at Annexure VI. Voting compartment has three sides covered. The ballot unit is to be placed inside the voting compartment on a table. The ballot unit is to be placed in such a way that voters do not find any difficulty in recording their voters. The voting compartment should be located at sufficient distance from the table where the control unit shall be kept and operated. The interconnecting cable between the ballot unit and the control unit has a length of approximately five metres and is permanently attached to the ballot unit. The cable should be so routed that it does not obstruct the movement of voters inside the polling station and they have not to tread or trip over it, but the entire length of the cable should be visible and under no circumstances be concealed under the cloth or under the table. It has to come out from the back portion of the voting compartment through an aperture cut out at the bottom of back portion of the voting compartment. This aperture should be wide enough so that the portion of the ballot unit, through which the cable comes out is visible from outside. This is necessary to keep a watch that no voter tries to tamper with or damage the cable while inside the voting compartment. However, this aperture in the voting compartment should also not be so wide as to violate the secrecy of voting. While placing the EVM in the voting compartment, it must be ensured without fail that secrecy of voting is not violated. For this purpose, it must be ensured that it is not near the window or the door of the polling station. It must be ensured that the voting compartment has been made only of cardboard and is of the dimension 21"X21"X21" and has been placed away from the window/door.
- If sufficiently large number of 'pardanashin' (burqa-clad) women electors are assigned to your polling station, you should make special arrangements for their identification and application of indelible ink on the left forefinger by a lady polling officer in a separate enclosure having due regard to privacy, dignity and decency. For such special enclosure you may use locally available but absolutely inexpensive devices and using local ingenuity, such as use of charpoys or cloth such as bed spreads.
- If more polling stations than one are located in the same building, you should satisfy yourself that necessary arrangements have been made for segregating the voters and making them wait in different parts of the space in front of each polling station without causing confusion.
- If the polling station is located in a private building/private institution, the building and the area around it up to a radius of one hundred metres should be under your control. No person (chowkidar/guard or anybody else) connected with the owner, whether armed or unarmed, should be allowed to remain either at the polling station or within a radius of two hundred metres around it. The security arrangements at the polling station and within the above area will be entirely the responsibility of the police under your control.
- No photos of leaders or symbols of any political party or slogans having a bearing on elections should be exhibited and if they are already there, you should take steps to remove them and keep them away, till the poll is over.
- No cooking or lighting of fire for any purpose should be allowed inside the polling station during the day of the poll.
- Display of notice
Display prominently outside each polling station-
(a) a notice specifying the polling area and the particulars of electors to be
(b) a copy of the list of contesting candidates in Form 7-A and wherever served by the polling station; and practicable the facsimile of the symbol of each candidate.
- The language of the notice should be the same as for the list of contesting candidates and the order of the names should also be the same as in the list of contesting candidate.
- Voting Procedure for Simultaneous Elections
- The voters when they enter the polling station will proceed to the first Polling Officer. The first Polling Officer will identify the electors by verifying his EPIC or other documents as prescribed by the Election Commission. Alternatively the electors may be identified by verifying the voters slip produced by electors which is provided to them by BLO's and make necessary entries in the marked copy of the electoral roll. The method of making necessary entries in the marked copy of the electoral roll has been explained in para 4 (xvi) in Chapter I.
- The voter will then move to second Polling Officer. The second Polling Officer will first apply the indelible ink mark on his left hand forefinger and ask him to sign or put thumb impression in the voters register. If the voter puts his thumb impression, the polling officer should ask the voter to wipe off the residuary stamp pad ink from his thumb with a piece of wet cloth kept on the table for this purpose.
- When the second Polling Officer is applying the indelible ink mark and taking the signature or thumb impression of the voter in the register, the third Polling Officer who will be sharing the Table with the second Polling Officer, will prepare two identical voters slips – one on white paper and the other on pink paper and after examining the finger of the voter to ensure that the indelible ink mark is duly applied and not erased will hand over both the voters slips to the voter and direct him to the fourth Polling Officer.
- Voting for Lok Sabha
- After receiving the two voter slips, enabling him to vote for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections respectively, the voter will go to the fourth Polling Officer who is in-charge of the CONTROL UNIT FOR LOK SABHA ELECTION. He will hand over the white voter slip to the fourth Polling Officer. After satisfying that it is the turn of that voter to vote, the fourth Polling Officer shall press the 'Ballot' button on the control unit for the Lok Sabha election kept on his table, and direct the voter to go into the voting compartment for Lok Sabha election. While doing so, the fourth Polling Officer should inform the voter that after voting for Lok Sabha, he should go with the pink voter slip to the fifth Polling Officer to vote for assembly election.
- The voter will then enter the voting compartment for Lok Sabha election and vote for Lok Sabha election by pressing the blue button of the candidate of his choice on the ballot unit kept inside.
- Sector Officers
You should be at the polling station with your party at least 2 hours one day before the time at which the poll is due to commence. In case you are not in a position to reach the polling station on the day poll in time as mentioned above, you can reach the polling station on the day previous to the day of poll and sleep at the polling station itself. In such case beware that you do not open the Electronic Voting Machine. Further you should not accept the hospitality of the local people. In any case follow the instruction of the District Election Officer/Returning Officer in this regard strictly.
If any Polling Officer appointed for your polling station is absent from the polling station, you may appoint any person who is present at the polling station, to be the polling officer to take his place and inform the District Election Officer accordingly.. But such person should not be a person who has been employed by or on behalf of, or has been otherwise working for, a candidate in or about the election.
On your arrival at the place where the polling station is to be set up, inspect the building proposed for the purpose and plan the set up. If the polling station has already been set up, inspect the polling station itself. (Diagrams of model polling stations showing the layouts when the polling party consist of 3 Polling Officers at a single election, is set out in Annexure VI.) It is open to you to make minor modifications in the actual set up of the polling station, if considered necessary; but make sure that –
The Election commission of India has introduced the system of appointment of Sector Officers for every 10-12 polling stations for election management. The Sector Officer designated for your Polling Station will be available for your assistance and his contact number will be provided with you by the Returning Officer at the time of distribution of polling materials.
- During elections, the Commission deploys Central Police Forces for the smooth conduct of elections. The Local State Police (including all its variants) and Central Paramilitary Forces stand deputed to the Election Commission of India at the time of elections and they come under its superintendence and control for all purposes. The Commission conducts election with the help of all these organs.
On the 11th January, 2005 the Hon'ble Supreme Curt in its judgement in Civil
Appeal No.9228 of 2003 gave certain suggestions/directions in the matter of
conduct of free and fair election relating to posting of Central Paramilitary
The Commission took the matter into consideration and issued the following
detailed instructions on the subject to obviate any discretion and ensure
The CPF Jawan posted at the entrance of the polling stations shall keep a watch specifically on the following: -
(i) No unauthorized person is present inside the polling station at any time during the poll.
(ii) The polling party or the polling agents do not attempt to cast or cast any vote or votes when no voter is present inside the polling booth.
(iii) No Presiding Officer/polling officer accompanies any voter to the voting compartment.
(iv) No polling agent or polling officer threatens any voter or makes any gesture to threaten them.
(v) No arms are carried inside the polling station.
vi) No rigging takes place.In a polling station, in case CPF has not reached the polling station due to any reason, the poll shall not commence.
The Local State Police shall remain responsible for maintenance of the general law and order in the catchment area of the polling stations, as well as the inside and outside of the polling premises (as different from polling stations).