The Election Commission Monday decided to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in seven constituencies and ballot papers in five constituencies in the July 27 by-elections to 12 assembly seats in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.
This is the first time since the introduction of EVMs that both ballot papers and EVMs are being used in an election.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer I.V. Subba Rao told reporters that 435 candidates remained in the fray after the deadline for withdrawal of nominations Monday.
EVMs will be used for polling in Sirpur, Chennur, Manchriyal, Dharampuri, Vemulawada, Nizamabad Urban and Siddipet constituencies, while ballot papers will be used in Sircilla, Huzurabad, Korutla, Yellareddy and Warangal West segments.
The strategy of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) to force use of ballot papers in all 12 constituencies failed as the nominations of many independent candidates were rejected during scrutiny.
TRS, the resignation of whose 10 legislators over the demand for separate Telangana state necessitated the by-elections, and main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have been demanding the election panel use ballot papers in all constituencies as EVMs can be tampered with. The poll panel, however, rejected their demand.
Since the EVM can be used only if the number of candidates is below 64, the TRS supporters filed nominations as independents. This swelled the total number of candidates to 926.
However, the election authorities rejected the papers of 213 independents, bringing the number of candidates in seven constituencies to below 64.
As many as 282 candidates withdrew their nominations Monday. However, the number of candidates did not come down below 64 in five constituencies.
Both the TRS and the TDP have criticised the poll panel's decision. The TDP has even urged the panel to either use EVMs or ballot papers in all the constituencies.