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Lok Sabha election: A fact check of viral WhatsApp message on voting rights

The message uses terms like 'challenge vote' and 'tender vote' which are not familiar terms for the voters.

Lok Sabha election: A fact check of viral WhatsApp message on voting rights

WhatsApp has been taking steps to curb the spread of fake news ahead of the Lok Sabha election. A recent message on the upcoming poll has gone viral and is doing the rounds claiming to enlighten the voters about their voting rights.

The message uses terms like 'challenge vote' and 'tender vote' which are not familiar terms for the voters.

As a result, people get easily confused assuming it to be a genuine as well as an important message and forward it on the social media platform.

The new message that has been doing rounds has three points that claim that: a) When you reach polling booth and find that your name is not in voter list, just show your Aadhaar card or voter ID and ask for "challenge vote" under section 49A and cast your vote; b) If you find that someone has already cast your vote, then ask for "tender vote" and cast your vote; c) If any polling booth records more than 14% tender votes, repolling will be conducted in such polling booth. Please share this very important message with maximum groups and friends as everyone should aware of their right to vote.

Let us now go through all the three points to understand the truth or falsity behind it.

Firstly the text says that when the voter reaches the polling booth and find that your name is not in voter list, he or she can show their Aadhaar card or voter ID and ask for "challenge vote" under section 49A and cast the vote. But the fact is that if a person's name is missing from the voters' list, then that person cannot cast his or her vote.

A person carrying a voter card or any other identity card but whose name isn't present in the voter list is not entitled to vote. A challenge vote does exist but it has to be done under the presiding officer as per the rules which includes a summary inquiry. Again it is to be noted that section 49A speaks about the design of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and not about the challenge vote.

Secondly, the message says that if a voter finds that someone else has already cast his or her vote, then the person can ask for a "tender vote" and cast the vote. This statement stands true but provided that the Presiding Officer is satisfied with the identity of the person to be the real voter. According to the 1961 Elections Rules, the Presiding Officer will permit him or her to vote but by means of a tendered ordinary ballot paper and not by means of the voting machine.

The voter will be supplied with a ballot paper which shall be similar to the ballot paper affixed on the balloting unit of the voting machine and the words 'Tendered ballot paper' will be stamped or written on its back. After marking the ballot paper with the arrow cross mark rubber stamp supplied, the tendered ballot paper will be put inside a cover specially provided for the purpose, sealed and kept by the Presiding Officer.

The third point--if any polling booth records more than 14 per cent tender votes, repolling will be conducted in such a polling booth--is also not true as the EC hasn't mentioned any such criteria. According to Rule 56, the tendered vote shall be counted as a valid vote "provided that no cover containing tendered ballot papers shall be opened and no such paper shall be counted".