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One Nation, One Poll: EC Says It Needs At Least Year’s ‘Definite Lead Time’

The EC has provided estimates to the Law Commission on the additional number of EVMs and VVPAT machines it would require if assembly and Lok Sabha polls are held simultaneously in 2024 and 2029, the report said.

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Election Commission of India
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The Election Commission (EC) has said it needs at least a year for a “definite lead time” of up to a year before implementation of “One nation, one poll” policy.

EC in its meeting with members of the law panel earlier this year, “is learnt to have underlined the need for a ‘definite lead time’ of up to a year before implementation, citing ‘steep’ logistical challenges in manufacturing voting machines,” reported IE.

The report quoting sources said “in its feedback to the law panel earlier this year regarding the feasibility of conducting simultaneous polls, the EC flagged concerns about the global shortage of semiconductors and chips, which is an essential component for manufacturing Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) & Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (or VVPAT) machines.”

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It added:  “This shortage posed significant challenges in meeting the EC’s additional voting machine requirements (about 4 lakh) for just the Lok Sabha polls in 2024, not taking into account the additional number required for conducting all elections together.”

“They (EC) felt that a definite lead time of up to a year would be required for ramping up the voting machine production lines, keeping in view the current commitments of the two manufacturers (Bharat Electronic Ltd. and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd). Moreover, the shortage of semiconductors, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, has further messed up the timelines for EVM procurement,” the report quoted a source as having said.

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EC has never opposed the idea of holding simultaneous elections, as long as the logistical arrangements for EVM procurement are addressed, there is consensus among political parties, and there are corresponding amendments to the Constitution, the report mentions.

It added: “The poll panel, however, wants six months to a year to prepare for it.”

Earlier, as well the EC had raised concerns about production challenges related to the semiconductor shortage. 

This year in its submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law, and Justice, the poll panel attributed its inability to spend over 80 per cent of the budget allocated for procuring EVMs in 2022-2023, till January 31, to the global shortage of semiconductors, which resulted in delays in the machine manufacturing process, the report mentioned.

“The EC is firmly against roping in private manufacturers to increase production capacity, fearing potential damage to the credibility of the electoral process and public faith,” it said.

The EC has provided estimates to the Law Commission on the additional number of EVMs and VVPAT machines it would require if assembly and Lok Sabha polls are held simultaneously in 2024 and 2029, it said.
 
 

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