Citing the pandemic situation the Telangana State Election Commission has decided to opt for ballot boxes instead electronic voting machine to conduct the upcoming Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections.

The SEC had sought opinions of various political parties on the contentious issue and while the ruling TRS had opted for ballot boxes the BJP had favoured EVM apprehending manipulation by the ruling party.

According to the SEC using EVMs for the civic election will require quite a bit of preparation involving huge number engineers, election staff, representatives of political party and even unskilled labourers for cleaning, unpacking and packing EVMs and VVPATs in closed environment.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic situation it is felt that conduct of the above activities involve high risk of community spread of novel coronavirus when compared to use of ballot boxes,” informed the SEC in a statement. The past two elections of GHMC in 2009 and 2016, respectively were conducted with EVMS but without VVPATs.

Since SEC does not have VVPATs the commission had requested ECIL, Hyderabad and BEL, Bangalore to send quotations for procurement of VVPATs.

The ECIL and BEL in turn informed the commission it will require permission from ECI to manufacture VVPATs. However, the ECI is yet to respond to their request. The recent elections for local bodies were conducted with ballot boxes.

Of the 11 recognised political parties eight had responded to the request of the SEC and sent their opnions while among them only one favoured EVMs and 5 favoured ballot boxes while 2 refrained from giving definite opinions.

The SEC is also planning to introduce facial recogition system in at least 150 polling stations during GHMC election. However, TRS ally AIMIM is opposing this move of the commission.