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வெள்ளி, ஜனவரி 28, 2011

Media monitoring team to keep tab on poll expenditure

CUDDALORE: 

         Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar has said that “district-level media monitoring teams” will be constituted in the State to keep a tab on expenditure incurred on media coverage by candidates for the coming Assembly elections.

         This was one of the five aspects contemplated to keep poll expenses of candidates within specified limits, Mr. Kumar told a press conference here on Thursday. These teams would be assigned the specific task of perusing newspapers and closely watching private television channels for advertisements by candidates. The expenses incurred in this regard would also be taken into consideration while computing poll accounts.

             An appeal would be sent to the media to refrain from carrying “paid news.” The CEO further said that the Bihar example would be emulated for the elections wherein it would be made mandatory for candidates to open exclusive bank accounts for poll expenses. Every transaction, including in cash, should be accounted for. Besides this, in every Assembly constituency video surveillance would be mounted to capture pictures of every facet of campaign such as vehicular movement, arrangements of feasts and distribution of enticements to voters.

             Phone numbers and website address of polling officials would be widely publicised to allow voters to lodge complaints, if any, even with photographic evidence. On follow-up action taken in previous cases of violation of poll rules, the CEO said that it was mostly related to defacement of property. Only a handful of cases on expenditure were pending in courts.

           Mr. Kumar said that 1,50,000 Electronic Voting Machines used prior to 2006 were being replaced with those brought from Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The post-2006 EVMs were fitted with a timer device to keep track of hour-wise polling trend. This would help detect malpractices at closing hours, which was a common complaint. On adding new features to EVMs, such as issue of receipts delineating the vote cast, he said that a committee headed by P.V. Indiresan, former Director of Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, was studying the issue.

          The first phase of checking EVMs in the presence of leaders of political parties had started. Two more rounds would be conducted before polls. Training for master trainers on conduct of polls would begin in the second or third week of February.

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