Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections will be conducted with ballot boxes and ballot paper and not EVMs, in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation, the Telangana State Election Commission (SEC) said on Monday.
Based on deliberations, available time and also opinions expressed by political parties (a majority conveyed their opinion to conduct the GHMC elections with ballot boxes only), it was decided to conduct the forthcoming elections to GHMC and other leftover Urban Local Bodies with ballot boxes and ballot paper, an official release said.
According to the release, different stages are involved before use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units in polling stations, like first and second level checking, randomisation and commissioning of EVMs.
"In all the stages, huge number of Engineers deputed by manufacturers, representatives of political parties, election staff are involved. A huge number of unskilled labour will be deployed for cleaning, unpacking and packing EVMs and VVPATs in a closed environment. During the COVID-19 pandemic situation, it is felt that conduct of these activities involve high risk of community spread of COVID-19, when compared to use of Ballot Boxes, " the release said.
With regard to previous elections to GHMC, the first election in 2002 was conducted with ballot boxes. The 2009 and 2016 elections were conducted with EVMs without VVPATs, the release said.
Earlier, a meeting was also held by the SEC with GHMC Commissioner D S LokeshKumar, to discuss whether to conduct elections with ballot boxes or EVMs, after which the opinion of political parties was obtained, the release added.
The election date is yet to be announced.