New Delhi: To avoid confusion in the minds of the electorate in constituencies where namesakes are contesting, the Election Commission has decided that ballot papers will also carry pictures of the contestants besides their names and party symbols.
An EC direction to all Chief Electoral Officers of states and UTs said that for elections to be held from May 1, 2015 onwards, the ballot papers, postal ballot papers and ballot papers to be displayed on EVMs will also carry the photographs of the candidates.
"The Commission has noted that there are many cases where candidates with same or similar names contest from the same constituency.
"Although appropriate suffixes are added to the names of candidates in the event or two or more candidates having same name, the Commission considers that additional measures are required for removing confusion in the minds of electors at the time of voting," the EC direction said.
The EC pointed out that a writ petition on the subject is pending in the Supreme Court. To allow CEOs add photographs to ballot papers, the EC has modified its existing directions issued under the Conduct of Election Rules. The photograph will appear between the name of the candidate and his or her election symbol.
The Commission explained that if a candidate fails to provide the photograph, it "shall not be a ground for the rejection of the nomination of the candidate".
The candidates will now be required to submit their very recent photograph, either black and white or coloured to election authorities at the time of filing nomination. No uniforms would be allowed and caps and dark glasses have to be avoided, the EC said.
The poll watchdog had recently informed the Supreme Court that it is open to the idea of printing photographs of contesting candidates on the ballot papers.