TIRUCHY: Scenes from Kollywood flick Sarkar played out at a polling booth in Ponmalai on Tuesday when R Ramesh Kumar, an engineer working in Abu Dhabi, found to his shock that his vote had already been cast when he went to exercise his democratic right.
Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Mel Kalkandarkottai, works as an operations manager at a private firm in Abu Dhabi.
The 34-year-old, who had come back to India on vacation on March 22, decided to exercise his franchise by going to vote at his allotted booth -- Government Middle School in Mel Kalkandarkottai. However, when he provided his booth slip and identification proof for polling officials to verify his credentials, he was in for a shock as they informed him that his vote had already been cast.
Speaking about the incident, Ramesh Kumar said, "As I was present in my hometown during the polls, I thought I would cast my vote. When I approached the presiding officer at my booth, I was taken aback when they said that a vote has already been cast on my behalf. Only after cross-verifying with my identification proof, they realised that I was the original voter and a fake vote had been cast on my behalf."
The unidentified person who cast the vote on behalf of Ramesh Kumar had provided a fake Aadhaar card for details of identification. With the booth committee agents of various political parties also not showing any objections, the polling booth official accepted the fake Aadhaar card details and allowed the person to vote.
"The Aadhar details which were noted by the polling officer did not match with my identity proof. They had taken only the last four digits of the card and they were also incorrect. The officials present inside did not verify if the photograph in the Aadhaar card and the person present were the same. As a result of this farce, they provided me the facility of 'tendered' vote. But this has happened only due to the pure negligence of the polling staff," added Ramesh Kumar.
According to Section 49P of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, if a voter realises that someone has already voted in his/her name, they can approach the presiding officer at the polling booth and flag the issue. Upon answering the presiding officer’s questions about their identity, the voter will be allowed to cast a 'tendered' vote. These votes are cast on ballot papers and sealed and locked away. However, they are counted only when the margin between the winner and runner-up is slim. If there is a large difference, the tendered votes are not counted.
When contacted, S Divya Darshini, District Election Officer, Tiruchy, said, "The tendered vote facility is provided when someone else has cast the vote of the actual voters on their behalf. It will be difficult to ascertain who had cast the vote. We will conduct an enquiry once the polls conclude."