We are reproducing below a memorandum presented by Shri MG Devasahayam to the CEC and Election Commissioners on behalf of the Citizens Commission on Elections (CCE).

To, CEC and Election Commissioners, Election Commission of India, New Delhi                                      Dated: 08-12-2023

Dear Sirs, 
 
As you are well aware elections have become synonymous with democracy and should be conducted in such a manner so as to reflect the will and mandate of the electorate. There should be absolute faith in the electoral process and public trust in the authority conducting the elections. Unfortunately, it is not so now.  
 
Attached herewith is the Memorandum (Text) signed electronically so far by over 6500 voters and the list of signatories. More are signing.  In addition, over 10,000 citizens have signed the Memorandum physically which is being sent separately. This has been done with our limited resources clearly indicating the huge trust-deficit that exists on the conduct of free and fair elections by the Election Commission. We are sending this by email because of late ECI has sealed itself and is not accessible to ordinary citizens like us who constitute the Indian democratic republic. 
 
Please see the Memorandum the contents of which is self-explanatory. Link: https://www.change.org/p/ecisveep-eci-must-implement-its-constitutional-mandate-to-conduct-free-and-fair-election. Here are our demands which can substantially enhance the integrity and fairness of elections in India. These are pragmatic, well within the jurisdiction of ECI and doable within a short time. Please see that these are complied with immediately, well before the General Election to Parliament due in 2024.
 
1.     Ensure the integrity of voting and counting

       i.          The VVPAT system should be re-calibrated to be fully voter-verifiable. A voter should be able to get the VVPAT slip in her hand and cast it in a chip-free ballot box for the vote to be valid. These VVPAT slips should be fully counted first for all constituencies before the results are declared. For this purpose, VVPAT slips should be larger in size and must be printed in such a manner that they can be preserved for a minimum of five years. 

     ii.          Subsequently, if need be, the results of the counting of VVPAT slips should be cross verified with the electronic tallies of the EVMs for every constituency before the results are declared. In case of any mismatch, the counting of the VVPAT slips should be treated as the final result as also laid down in Rule 56(d)(4)(b) of The Conduct of the Election (Amendment) Rules, 2013. Forms 17A (Register of electors) and Forms 17C (Account of votes recorded) must be tallied and be publicly disclosed at the end of polling on the polling day itself. Forms 17A and 17C should also be tallied with the manual count of VVPAT slips before the declaration of results. 

 2.     Ensure the integrity of Electoral Rolls

i         To prevent arbitrary deletions, the ECI must ensure that prior notice is issued to every voter whose name is proposed to be deleted. This has also been directed by the Supreme Court in its recent judgment dated 4-8-2023 in which it was stated “No deletion should be done without following due process of law as contained in the R P Act, 1950 and the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960. In all cases a notice must be issued to the elector and must be duly served on him”. This is critical to ensure that no voter is left behind. 

ii       The ECI should immediately implement a transparent and public system of Social Audit of Electoral Rolls. Voter’s lists must be publicly displayed in the most accessible manner and also made available on the ECI website in a searchable database. Citizens should be empowered to check their own information as well as that of bogus names and duplicates in their area. 

 3.     Rein-in Money Power

The ECI must strongly advocate for transparency in political party funding and ensure that money-power does not sway elections and their outcome. It must oppose electoral bonds that provide for unlimited anonymous funding of political parties. 

We urge upon the ECI to immediately act on the suggestions above, lest India gets counted among the countries holding bogus elections at “regular intervals in an organised manner” but sans integrity and fairness.

This email along with attachments is being copied to the political parties and media with the hope that they will take it forward and save India’s democracy from diminishing and decaying.

Yours Truly 

M G Devasahayam

Coordinator, Citizens Commission on Elections (CCE)

Link to CCE Reports Volume I and II: CCE Report – Reclaim the Republic

Image source: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2023/04/02/the-reality-of-nigerian-democracy

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