Opposition parties to pitch for paper ballots at Election Commission meet on Monday

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Many opposition parties will reiterate their demand for paper ballots for future elections, among other things, in a meeting with the Election Commission of India (EC) on Monday. The EC has called the meeting with seven national and 51 state recognised political parties to discuss various electoral issues such as electoral rolls, limiting political parties expenditure and timely submission of annual audited reports by parties among other things. At least 17 parties, including the NDA ally Shiv Sena, have been pitching for returning to ballot papers. These include the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party, CPI-M, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), DMK, CPI, YSR Congress, Kerala Congress Mani (KCM) and AIUDF. We will raise the issue of ballot papers in the meeting for fair and impartial elections. We want to make it clear that we do not consider EVMs as tamper proof, an opposition leader told IANS. Secondly, we would point out that the election expenses of political parties must also be limited along with the candidates, he added. Although the EC in its official agenda of the meet released to the press has not mentioned simultaneous polls, the issue is likely to come up for discussion. A majority of opposition parties have already told the Law Commission that they do not consider this proposal as practical or desirable. The agenda for the meeting includes discussion on how to improve accuracy, transparency and inclusiveness of electoral rolls, measures to encourage enhanced representation of women in political process, issues related to expenditure ceiling for parties, timely submission of annual audited reports and election expenditure reports among other things. Also on the agenda are alternative modes of voting for domestic migrants and absentee voters.