Election Commission may put photos of candidates on ballots

By: | Published: January 31, 2015 12:07 AM

The Election Commission on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it is open to the idea of printing...

The Election Commission on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it is open to the idea of printing photographs of contesting candidates on ballots to avoid voters getting confused with namesakes.

The Commission told a bench headed by Justice M Y Eqbal that it can implement the suggestion for affixing the photographs, subject to overcoming space constraints on ballots which in several cases have long names of candidates. Besides, in some cases the voting papers have to be printed in three languages – Enlish, Hindi and regional.

Though the Commission has not spelled out when the proposed move would come into force, the decision once implemented can help illiterate and semi-literate voters who often get confused with candidates having identical names. “In this regard, the answering respondent (EC) submits that the printing the photograph of candidates, along with other particulars, is a good suggestion and the same has been proposed by the Election Commission of India in a recent meeting held with the Chief Electoral Officers of the States,” the affidavit filed through counsel Amit Sharma said.

The assurance came in response to the apex court’s directive to the Commission last July to examine the suggestion of a Delhi resident Akash Gahlot for ensuring photographs of the contesting candidates on ballots.

Gahlot had sought inclusion of photographs of candidates in electronic voting machines to end the perceived menace of namesakes cutting into the votes of serious candidates.

According to the petitioner, since 2004 political parties are introducing dummy namesake candidates in the election to confuse the voters, particularly the illiterate, semi-literate and not-so-vigilant voters.

The PIL also claimed that in the 2013 Delhi Assembly Elections there were many dummy candidates in several constituencies.

Even confusion about symbols existed as was the case when the Aam Admi Party’s symbol, broom, was confused with the flaming torch symbol allotted to independents.

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