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Fact Check: Old video of man alleging vote mismatch in Varanasi falsely linked to Lok Sabha polls 2024

It was alleged that the number of votes counted in Varanasi was more than the number of votes polled. In the fact check, it was found that the claim was false.

Edited By: Ashesh Mallick @asheshmallick07 New Delhi Published on: June 13, 2024 18:53 IST
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FACT CHECK BY FACTLY: The results of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 were announced on June 4 after which the NDA formed its government once again. Narendra Modi was sworn-in as the Prime Minister for the third consecutive term. In this context, a video (here, here, and here) showing a man claiming that the total number of votes polled was less than the total votes counted in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in Varanasi is being linked to Lok Sabha elections 2024 and widely shared across social media platforms. In the video, a man is heard alleging that nearly 11 lakh votes were cast in Varanasi, however, the total tally came up to 12.87 lakhs after counting. He claimed that the difference was 1.87 lakhs and that PM Modi’s majority was 1.52 lakhs. He further claimed that the same thing happened in 373 other constituencies.

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The archived versions of similar posts can be found here, here, and here.

Claim: In the 2024 general elections, there is a discrepancy between the votes polled and the votes counted in the EVMs in Varanasi.

Fact: The viral video that circulated before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections referenced the 2019 elections, suggesting a connection between the two. However, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has refuted allegations of discrepancies in the votes cast and counted for the Varanasi constituency during the 2019 elections. According to the ECI's data, the 2019 Varanasi elections had a total electorate of 18,56,791, with 10,58,744 votes recorded through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). For the 2024 elections, the registered voter count for Varanasi was 19,97,578. PM Modi, contesting from Varanasi, secured victory in the 2024 elections with a margin of 1,52,513 votes. The total votes polled in Varanasi during the 2024 elections amounted to 11,30,143, with 11,27,081 from EVMs and 3,062 from postal ballots. Consequently, the claim made in the viral video is deemed FALSE based on the provided election data.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency on June 4. A viral post claimed that more votes were counted than polled in the seat. It is worth noting that the same video was online before the commencement of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, i.e., before 19 April 2024. This implies that the viral video mentioned the 2019 elections. A fact-check article published by Factly, fact-checking this post when it went viral in April 2024, can be found here.

When the video gained traction in April 2024, the Election Commission of India swiftly responded to a post on X (Twitter) dated April 7, 2024, dismissing (archive here) the claims made in it and labelling them as false. The ECI emphasised that during the 2019 Varanasi elections, the total electorate stood at 18,56,791, with 10,58,744 utilising Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and an additional 2,085 voters casting their ballots via postal ballots. Furthermore, the Election Commission clarified (archive here) through an archived link that it never released any statement indicating a discrepancy between the total electors and votes cast via EVMs in 373 parliamentary constituencies during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Furthermore, the Election Commission of India has made available comprehensive data regarding the number of electors and votes cast in every Parliamentary constituency during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This dataset serves to debunk the viral claim. According to this official information, Varanasi recorded a total of 18,56,791 voters during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, with 10,60,829 votes being cast.

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According to the 2024 Lok Sabha election results published by the ECI on their website, PM Modi won the election with a margin of 1,52,513 votes. In this election, the total number of votes polled in the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat was 11,30,143 of which 11,27,081 were EVM votes and 3,062 were cast by postal ballot.

According to the press note issued by the ECI on June 6, 2024, regarding voter turnout in the seventh and final phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the total number of registered voters in the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat was 19,97,578 while the total number of votes polled was 11,28,527 (excluding postal ballots).

A difference of 1,446 votes between the number of EVM votes polled as stated in the ECI press release dated 06 June 2024, and the number of EVM votes counted as per the election results published by the ECI is observed.

Why is there a difference between the number of EVM votes polled and EVM votes counted?

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO Uttar Pradesh) responded on X (Twitter) (archived link) to a post highlighting the difference between the EVM votes recorded and the EVM votes counted in several parliamentary constituencies and explained why such differences occur. According to this explanation, the difference between votes polled and votes counted can arise because certain polling stations’ votes are not counted as per the protocol issued by the Commission and outlined in various manuals and handbooks (e.g., Para 11.4 of the Handbook for Counting Agents). These polling stations fall into two categories:

Where the Presiding Officer mistakenly fails to clear the mock poll data from the control unit before starting the actual poll or fails to remove mock poll slips from the VVPAT before starting the actual poll.

Where the total votes polled in the control unit do not match the record of votes in Form 17-C prepared by the Presiding Officer, who records an incorrect number by mistake.

The votes from these two categories of polling stations are counted towards the end of the counting process only if the total votes polled in all such polling stations are equal to or greater than the margin between the first and second candidates. If the total is lower than the margin, then the votes are not counted at all, resulting in a difference between the total votes polled by EVMs and the votes counted.

Further investigation into the individual featured in the viral video revealed that he is Waman Meshram, serving as the national president of the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF). Meshram gained attention after leading a protest alongside thousands of individuals against the utilisation of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at the Election Commission of India office on January 31, 2024. During the protest, Meshram accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of exploiting EVMs for their own benefit.

An old video is being falsely shared, claiming there is a discrepancy between the votes cast and the votes counted for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat in the recent Lok Sabha elections 2024.

(Disclaimer: This story was originally published by FACTLY, and republished by India TV as part of the Shakti Collective.)

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