Imagine you are going to your polling booth to cast your vote with all documents in order. You go into the booth, submit your documents, verify yourself, have your finger marked and all, but just before you vote, one of the polling agents stops you and says “this person is not who they claim to be”, leaving you perplexed. Your vote has been ‘challenged’.
A ‘challenged vote’ refers to a vote by a person whose identity has been challenged by the polling agent.
If the identity of the voter is held to be in doubt by the polling agent, his vote may be ‘challenged’ and the matter taken up with the presiding officer, who will then conduct an inquiry.
The ‘challenged’ voter’s name and address is then put in the list of challenged votes in Form 14.
Any polling agent may challenge the identity of a person claiming to be a particular elector by first depositing a sum of two rupees in cash with the presiding officer for each such challenge. On such deposit being made, the presiding officer shall –
- Warn the person challenged of the penalty for impersonation;
- Read the relevant entry in the electoral roll in full and ask them whether he is the person referred to in that entry;
- Enter their name and address in the list of challenged votes in Form 14; and
- Require them to affix his signature in the said list.
The presiding officer shall thereafter hold a summary inquiry into the challenge and may for that purpose –
- Require the challenger to adduce evidence in proof of the challenge and the person challenged to adduce evidence of proof of their identity
- Put to the person challenged any questions necessary for the purpose of establishing their identity and require him to answer them on oath
- Administer an oath to the person challenged and any other person offering to give evidence.
If, after the inquiry, the presiding officer considers that the challenge has not been established he shall allow the person challenged to vote; and if he considers that the challenge has been established, he shall debar the person challenged from voting.
If the presiding officer is of the opinion that the challenge is frivolous or has not been made in good faith, he shall direct that the deposit made to be forfeited to Government or returned to the challenger at the conclusion of the inquiry.