HANDBOOKS


HANDBOOK FOR POLLING AGENTS

1. INTRODUCTORY

1.1 It is not possible for a candidate to be physically present at every polling station on the day of poll in an assembly or a parliamentary constituency. Therefore, the law allows him to appoint polling agents to act as his representatives at every polling station to watch his interests. A democratic election postulates that the poll is conducted freely and fairly at every single polling station and every candidate should feel satisfied in this respect. If the polling agents who represent the candidates at the polling stations carry out their duties well and conscientiously, it will help not only the candidates whom they represent but also the election authorities in the smooth conduct of poll with full co-operation of those agents.

1.2 The polling agents play a very important part in the actual taking of poll which is the most vital part of the entire process of election. The task of a Presiding Officer and the Polling Officers at the polling station will be made easy and smooth if the polling agents discharge their duties within their own realm in a cooperative spirit. For this purpose, they should know their functions clearly and carry them out intelligently under the law.

2.MAIN DUTIES OF POLLING AGENTS

The main duty of the polling agents is to see that the interests of the candidates who have appointed them are safeguarded at the polling stations. Their other duties are:-

(a) to help the Presiding Officer to detect and prevent impersonation of voters by challenging persons whose identity as real elector is doubtful

(b) to help in having the ballot boxes properly secured and sealed according to the rules before, during and after the close of poll, and

(c) to see that all election records relating to the poll are secured and sealed properly after the close of poll as required by law.

3.NUMBER OF POLLING AGENTS

Every contesting candidates is entitled to appoint one polling agent and two relief agents to act as the polling agents at each polling station. Only one of them can, however, remain present inside the polling station at a time. They can relieve each other from time to time. Any relief agent can take the place of the polling agent whenever he goes out. Whichever of them is inside the polling station is treated as the polling agent of the candidate for the time being and has the same rights and responsibilities as given to the polling agent by law.

4.APPOINTMENT OF POLLING AGENTS

4.1 The appointment of a polling agent can be made either by the candidate himself or by his election agent, and by no one else. The appointment has to be made by a letter of appointment in the prescribed form (Appendix I) and signed by the person making the appointment, i.e., the candidate or his election agent. The polling agent formally accepts his appointment by signing the letter of appointment. If possible, the polling agent should sign his letter of appointment in the presence of the candidate or his election agent. Such letter of appointment will be handed over to the polling agent for production in original at the polling station, so that the Presiding Officer may admit him into the polling station. The polling agent will have to sign again in the presence of the Presiding Officer at the polling station.

4.2 The Presiding Officer of a polling station will not be in a position to verify the signature of the candidate or his election agent, as given in appointment letter in Form 10 presented to him by the polling agent, if he does not have the specimen signatures of the candidates or their election agents. This may result some time in presentation of spurious Form 10 by unscrupulous person with the purported/forged signatures. In order to prevent any such malpractice's and unscrupulous methods at the polling stations, the Commission has devised a Format (Appendix-1A) for obtaining and circulating the specimen signatures of the candidates and their election agents. If any of the candidates has not appointed any election agent, the words "No election agent appointed" shall be recorded in the Format (Appendix-1A) by the Returning Officer.

4.3 If any candidate and/or his election agent refuse(s) to affix specimen signature on the format (Appendix-1A), the Presiding officer may not entertain any appointment letter in Form 10 from the polling agents appointed by him where the presiding officer is in reasonable doubt as to the genuineness of the signature of the candidate or his election agent, whose specimen signature is not available in the prescribed format (Appendix-IA).

4.4. If a change in the appointment of an Election Agent is made at the last moment, when the Presiding Officers have already been supplied with the copy of the format containing the specimen signatures as originally furnished by the contesting candidate (Appendix-IA), then it shall be the responsibility of the candidate concerned to supply a copy of Form 9 revoking the appointment of the election agent and a copy of Form 8 appointing the new election agent to each Presiding Officer.

4.5 There is no time limit for the appointment of polling agents. However, it is desirable that they are appointed sufficiently in advance, say, about 10 days before the date of poll, so that they may be in a position to apply for postal ballot papers if they are entitled to vote by means of postal ballot at the election.


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