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Kairana by-elections: Election Commission orders re-polling at 73 booths

Kairana by-election: The Election Commission of India has ordered re-polling at 73 polling booths where a number of EVM malfunctioned during the polling for Lok Sabha by-elections in Kairana on Sunday. Both Bharatiya Janata Party and the United Opposition had lodged complaints over alleged malfunctioning of hundreds of EVMs and paper trail machines. The poll panel said less than one per cent voting machines, but over 11 per cent VVPATs were replaced. However, the poll body sought to put the blame on extreme heat and mishandling by some polling staff. Going by the Election Commission, 96 ballot units (the actual EVM), 84 control units (the command unit of the machine which is with the presiding officer) were replaced at four Lok Sabha and 9 assembly bypolls today across 10 states on Monday. Re-polling will also be done at as many as 49 polling stations in Maharashtras Bhandara-Gondia and one polling station in Nagaland, after VVPAT machines developed snags during yesterdays Lok Sabha bypolls. The re-poll will be held from 7 am to 6 pm tomorrow, PTI reported. The election commission said a total of 12,695 ballot units and 10,365 control units were used in the bypolls. It said percentage-wise, 0.76 per cent ballot units and 0.86 per cent control units were replaced. Malfunction was in VVPATs (voter verifiable paper audit trail machines). Factors responsible may include first time use by polling staff whereas they have developed expertise in managing EVMs, extreme heat, placement of VVPAT under direct light and mishandling during use, an EC spokesperson had told media. A group of Opposition party leaders included SP leader Ramgopal Yadav, RLD chief Ajit Singh and Congress leader RPN Singh met top EC officials claiming that the faulty EVMs were not replaced in time. Both BJP and Opposition demanded that that repoll should be announced in polling stations where EVMs were not replaced for over one-and-a-half hours. From BJP, a delegation including general secretaries Bhupender Yadav and Arun Singh, and its media head Anil Baluni lodged a complaint with EC. The BJP said that EVMs were dysfunctional for a long period in 197 booths in Kairana and Noorpur.