GHMC polls: Ballot boxes to be used after 18 years; here’s how it works

The ballot box election is the traditional form of voting which takes place directly at the polling booth

Hyderabad: Eighteen years after they were last used during the municipal corporation elections in the Hyderabad, ballot boxes are set to make a comeback in the upcoming Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls. This decision was taken after eliciting views from political parties by the State Election Commission (SEC).

An official from the GHMC confirmed ballot boxes were last used was in 2002, when the civic body was called the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH). It had 100 wards, as its geographical area was smaller than the current GHMC limits. The official also said that the elections to Gram Panchayats, Mandal Parishad and Zilla Parishad polls last year, as well as elections to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), were conducted through ballot boxes.

A senior legislator from Hyderabad, who did not want to be named, said that those who are confident of winning shouldn’t bother about the medium used for voting. 

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Further, for the upcoming December 1 polls, the SEC has procured 17,366 ballot boxes, which have been kept at the Victory Play Ground, Chaderghat, under security and CCTV surveillance. As per SEC estimates, 30,000 ballot boxes are required to conduct elections for 150 wards. 

The GHMC elections are to be held from December 1 to December 4. The SEC accepted nominations between November 18 and 20. While November 20 was the last date for filing of nominations, their scrutiny has been scheduled for November 21. The last date for withdrawal of nominations for candidates is November 24.

What are Ballot boxes?

The ballot box election is the traditional form of voting which takes place directly at the polling booth. Election officers (known as Returning Officers), who are usually volunteers, verify individuals’ right to vote by comparing their personal ID with the data listed on the electoral roll. If a person has the right to vote, they then receive the election documents and the ballot paper.

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The voter then fills out the paper ballot in the polling booth. It’s important that the voter isn’t pressured into selecting certain options and that their vote is kept secret. By doing so, the integrity of the election can be upheld.

Afterwards, the voter puts their completed ballot into a ballot box, which must be locked and sealed until counting begins so as to ensure that the ballot papers cannot be manipulated. Once voting has officially ended, ballot boxes will be opened under close supervision, and ballot papers will be counted according to national voting laws.

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