Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and five Assembly polls due before the end of this year, the Election Commission has initiated "first level checks" of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and papertrail machines across the country in a phased manner, sources said.
"Mock polls" are part of the First Level Check (FLC) process, they said.
"It is a pan-India exercise. The FLC will take place across the country in a phased manner, including all constituencies of Kerala," an Election Commission functionary said.
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He was responding to a question on a mock poll taking place in Kerala's Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, which fell vacant following the disqualification of Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi after he was convicted in a criminal defamation case in March by a sessions court in Surat.
"The EC issues a calendar for such exercises and there are standing instructions that are to be followed by State Chief Electoral Officers," the functionary explained.
The functionary pointed out that FLCs will also take place in the five poll-bound states of Rajasthan, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh as well as Assembly and Parliamentary seats where bypolls are due.
At present, the Lok Sabha seats of Wayanad, Pune and Chandrapur (Maharashtra), Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh) and Ambala (Haryana) are vacant.
Mr. Gandhi's plea seeking a stay on the conviction and sentencing is pending before the Gujarat High Court.
During FLCs, EVMs and papertrail machines are checked for mechanical flaws by engineers of Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. (ECIL), the two Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) who manufacture the two equipment. Faulty machines are returned to the manufacturers for repair or replacement. A mock poll is also held to check the two machines in the presence of representatives of political parties.