MPs and MLAs who vote to elect the next President tomorrow have been barred from carrying their personal pens inside the voting chamber and will have to mark their ballot with a specially-designed marker, the Election Commission said today. Following the ink controversy in the Rajya Sabha polls in Haryana last year, the Election Commission has decided to use special pens for the electors to mark their votes in the presidential and vice presidential polls. Specially serial-numbered pens with violet ink have been supplied by the Election Commission to ensure that only the writing instrument issued by it is used by voters to mark their votes tomorrow. "Before entering the voting chamber, a polling staff will will collect personal pens from the voters and hand over the special pen to mark their vote on the ballot paper. "When the member comes out of the voting chamber, the special pen will be taken back and the polling staff will return the personal pen," a Commission spokesperson explained the new rule. While announcing the schedule of the election, the poll panel had made it clear that use of any other pen could lead to invalidation of the vote at the time of counting under the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Rules, 1974. These special pens have been procured from Mysore paints and varnish Ltd which supplies indelible ink to the EC. In another first, the poll watchdog has also prepared special posters carrying dos and don'ts for the voters. It asks them to use only EC-issued pen and warns that no whip or directive can be issued to party members to vote in favour of any candidate.
Since it is a secret ballot, the voters should not disclose whom they have voted for. Green-coloured ballot papers will be there for members of Parliament and pink for MLAs who vote in the election. The value of an MLA's vote depends on the population of the state he or she represents. But the value of the vote of an MP does not vary -- it is 708. Hence, the different colour of ballot papers will help the returning officer count the votes based on the value. The total value of the electoral college is 10,98,903. The ballot boxes will be brought to Delhi for counting on July 20. The electoral college, which elects the President through the system of proportional representation, comprises elected MPs and members of state legislative assemblies -- a total of 4,896 voters including 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs. While 233 are elected members of the Rajya Sabha, 543 are from the Lok Sabha. A total of 32 polling stations -- one in Parliament House and one each in the state legislative assemblies, have been set up. 33 observers have been appointed by the EC to oversee the conduct of election. While two observers will be present in the Parliament House, one each will be deployed in the respective state assemblies. NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind is pitted against opposition candidate Meira Kumar in tomorrow's prestigious poll.
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