LS by-polls in Mah, UP marred by malfunctioning of EVMs, VVPATs

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 May 2018 09:10:15



POLLING for the Palghar, Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and Kairana, Noorpur Assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh on Monday were marred by instances of malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs).

Palghar District Collector Prashant Narnaware told PTI that around 46 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the constituency between 7 am to 6 pm. While, a district official from Gondia said the polling percentage in Bhandara-Gondia is projected to be less than 40 per cent. It would be around midnight for the approximate polling figures to be available, he added.

Over 54 per cent polling was recorded in the Kairana Lok Sabha constituency while 61 per cent votes were cast in the Noorpur Assembly constituency.
According to an Election Commission official, Kairana Lok Sabha by-poll saw a turnout of 54.17 per cent while the figure was 61 per cent for the Noorpur Assembly constituency. Polling was peaceful at both the places, the official said.

The technical glitches in Maharashtra prompted the Shiv Sena and the NCP to express reservations over the use of these machines, with former Union Minister Praful Patel claiming that almost 25 per cent of EVMs malfunctioned in the by-poll to Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seat.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said those in power were contesting elections with the “key and remote of EVMs in their hands”. “In view of the malfunctioning of EVMs, we received representations from various parties to extend polling hours,” the IAS officer said.

Senior NCP leader Praful Patel sought to know why EVMs from Surat in Gujarat, the home State of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were used in the by-poll when similar machines were available in Maharashtra. In New Delhi, sources in the poll panel said inapt handling of VVPAT machines by the ground staff, especially when the temperature is high, led to their heating, resulting in their malfunctioning, an explanation Patel termed as “shocking”.
In developed countries like the US, Germany, France and Japan, the use of EVMs was stopped and they reverted to ballot papers, he said.

Patel said his party had raised the issue of faulty EVMs with the Election Commission. He also pointed out that VVPAT machines, which eject slips to confirm the voter’s choice, were not functioning.

Meanwhile, Raut told reporters in Mumbai that manipulating EVMs was now a trend. “Earlier, there used to be booth-capturing and bogus voting. Now, some people hold the key and remote control of EVMs in their hands and contest elections,” he said. Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Ashok Chavan said alleged 250 EVMs and VVPATs had malfunctioned, which was a suspicious development. He demanded a probe.

The BJP candidate for the Palghar Lok Sabha seat, Rajendra Gavit, demanded the polling time be extended in view of the faulty EVMs in some booths.
Gavit’s poll representative submitted a memorandum to election officials in Palghar, seeking extension of the polling time due to malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines in some booths.

However, the polling time was not extended. The counting of votes will take place on May 31.
Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh leader and former MP Prakash Ambedkar said around 450 EVMs malfunctioned.
Around 15,000 voters from Mali Ali, Mavanda, Navale and Nandanvan villages in Palghar’s Vasai tehsil boycotted polling, citing lack of developmental in their areas.

In Bhandara-Gondia, the BJP and the NCP were the main rivals in the bypoll, held after the resignation of BJP MP Nana Patole. In Palghar, the by-poll was necessitated following the death of sitting BJP MP Chintaman Wanaga. The BJP’s bickering ally Shiv Sena has fielded the late MP’s son Srinivas in a bid to garner the sympathy vote.

In Uttar Pradesh, SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary charged that 140 EVMs were tampered with in Noorpur while similar reports had come in from Kairana as well. RLD spokesman Anil Dubey said there were reports of EVM malfunctioning in both the constituencies, especially in areas of RLD-SP influence. UP Chief Electoral Officer, L Venkateswarlu said faulty EVMs were being replaced. According to the Election Commission, there are 16.09 lakh voters in Kairana - 8.73 lakh male voters and 7.36 lakh female voters. Noorpur Assembly constituency has 3.06 lakh voters. In Kairana, there are 12 candidates in the fray, while in Noorpur there are 10 candidates in the field. Counting of votes in both the seats will take place on May 31.

Malfunctioning reports exaggerated: EC


ALLEGATIONS of EVM malfunctioning returned to haunt the Election Commission as four Lok Sabha seats and nine assembly constituencies went for by-polls on Monday across 10 States with moderate-to-heavy voting.
The EC said reports of ‘large-scale’ failure of EVMs were “exaggerated projection of reality” even as complaints mounted about problems with electronic voting machines including in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana.

Sources in the poll panel, which has in the past also faced allegations about EVMs, blamed inapt handling of the paper-trail machines for votes by the ground staff, especially when the temperature is high, for malfunctioning in some areas.

Counting for all seats will take place on May 31. In Punjab, nearly 73 per cent voting was recorded for the Shahkot in a largely peaceful by-poll.

Voting was peaceful in the Eastern and North-Eastern States as well with 70 per cent votes being cast in the lone Parliamentary seat in Nagaland, while the polling was 53-90.42 per cent in five Assembly seats across four other States -- Ampati in Meghalaya, Gomia and Silli in Jharkhand, Maheshtala in West Bengal and Jokikhat in Bihar. In South, tight security and a changed political equation post Congress-JD(S) alliance marked voting for the Rajarajeshwarinagar by-poll in the State. In Kerala, people braved heavy rains to vote for Chengannur Assembly by-poll, where about 74.60 per cent voting was recorded in the by-poll, necessitated due to death of sitting MLA K K Ramachandran Nair of CPI(M).

In Meghalaya’s Ampati by-election, polling was the highest at 90.42 per cent. In Jharkhand, voting in Gomia was 62.61 per cent and 75.5 per cent in Silli, where polling ended at 3 pm as they fall in LWE area.