Chief Electoral officer Kunal chaired a meeting of the political parties to discuss on issues related to the General election to the Goa Legislative Assembly 2017 at CEO office Altinho, Panaji today.Detailed discussions were taken up on several points raised by the representatives of the political parties.

Issues such as need for counting VVPAT slips during counting, secrecy of the serial noo of the postal Ballots issued, discarding of postal ballots and voting through EVMs , deviation from the laid down procedure mentioned in the Candidate’s handbook during the electioneering process, enrolment of service voters in Navelim, Ponda, Panjim and Vasco etc. were discussed during the meeting.

 

As regards Postal ballot casting during Facilitation Centre., The CEO asked DEO North to clarify regarding the process followed. She mentioned that all guidelines of the ECI were followed and all candidates were intimated in writing regarding the date and timing. The sealing of the drop boxes were done after sorting in the presence of candidates and the General Observer. Dilip Prabhudesai of the Goa Forward Party expressed his grievance that in Margao and Fatorda constituencies, no such intimation was given to the candidates.

 

The CEO directed DEO South to conduct enquiry on the matter and report within 24 hours. Further, Prabhudesai raised doubts about deviation from the laid down procedure mentioned in the Candidate’s handbook. DEO North clarified that in addition to the procedure mentioned therein, the Commission had issued directions vide letter dtd 20th January 2017 that drop boxes should continue to be kept in the RO’s offices where govt. servants can come and drop their postal ballots. This has duly been intimated to the candidates.

 

Prabhudesai raised the concern whether any Postal ballots were lying with the ROs after 4th February 2017 Floriano Lobo of Goa Suraj Party raised concerns about the secrecy of the Sl. No of the postal Ballots issued The CEO reiterated that there was no way that the Sl.Nos of Postal Ballots could be revealed, since all steps as per guidelines of the Commission were followed and no one has access to the same. Avinash Bhonsle of NCP said that he had doubts about the leakage of the marked copy of the Electoral Roll to certain parties. The CEO asked him to state specifically about any such instance. He also assured that all ROs of North and South Goa would be asked to report on the same. lt was suggested by Floriano Lobo that in future, the option of replacing the Sl.No with bar code or some such detail should be explored to ensure secrecy of PB. Bhonsle mentioned that he has raised before the ECI that the process of PB should be discarded and voting through EVMs should be allowed for this election. It was suggested by some of the other members that the system of PB could be replaced with voting through EVMS in future. CEO said that this would duly be communicated to the Commission. Althinho Gomes raised the issue regarding enrolment of service voters in Navelim, Ponda, Panjim and Vasco in the previous meeting with political parties. DEO South explained that the process of enrollment of service voters in Navelim was in accordance with the guidelines of ECI dated 3/7 /2014 and 7/9/2OL4 and further, vide directions dtd 27th October, 2016, regarding enrolment of service voters as general voters in the Electoral Roll of the area where they are posted. He explained that 380 names were included in the first Supplementary Roll after verification by the BLOS based on the Forms submitted through the Record Officer. Also, in the second Supplementary Roll, there were 280 names added, out of which, almost all the voters are of the 18-19 age group, wherein cancellation in Form 7 was not required. Out of the 98 voters who had filed Form 7, only 5 were enrolled on receiving intimation regarding deletion from the concerned CEOS of the states where they were earlier enrolled. Remaining 93 were rejected. Avinash Bhonsle mentioned that he has raised before the ECI that there is a need to count WPAT slips also during counting. This was endorsed by some other members. Prabhudesai mentioned the concern regarding the longevity of the print on thermal paper. CEO said that this would duly be communicated to the Commission. The CEO reiterated that all the suggestions and concerns raised by the participants will be duly communicated to the ECI for kind perusal.