Will provide solution on concerns about EVMs: CEC

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 28 Aug 2018 08:42:00




THE Election Commission (EC) said on Monday that it would provide ‘satisfactory solution’ to the concerns raised by political parties on the reliability of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), after several of them pitched for returning to the ballot paper system at an all-party meeting.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said, “We will definitely look into all the suggestions given by them (political parties) and there will be a satisfactory solution to them.” The ECconvened the meeting ahead of elections to several State Assemblies later this year and the Lok Sabha polls scheduled for early next year. It is customary for the poll panel to listen to political parties ahead of elections. In the meeting, several Opposition parties raised the issues of EVM tampering and technical glitches in the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system.

Representatives of the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Trinamool Congress were among those who raised these issues and many of them also suggested going back to the ballot paper system, representatives of parties and EC officials present in the meeting said.

Though EVM tampering and VVPAT glitches were not on the agenda, the parties raised these issues.
Some parties also suggested that the number of constituencies where results of EVM and paper audit trail device are matched be increased to enhance the confidence of voters and parties in the reliability of the voting mode.
“Nothing final has been decided yet, but one way to allay fears is to increase the number of constituencies where EVM and paper trail machine results are matched,” a senior EC functionary said after the meeting. Responding to repeated questions on EVMs, Rawat said the EC takes a comprehensive view.

“Some of the parties said going back to ballot is really bad as it will bring back booth capturing... We don’t want (that). At the same time, some parties said there are problems with EVMs, there are issues with VVPAT slip count so why not EC takes a call on this,” Rawat said.
Asked about the stand of the EC on EVMs and whether it remains the ‘same’ as it was in the past, the CEC dubbed it as a ‘hypothetical question’. In June last year, when the EC had invited parties to prove that the EVMs can be hacked, only two parties accepted the challenge but they too opted out of the event.

As many as 13 parties had last year questioned the reliability of the EVMs.
Then Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had maintained that the EVMs used by the EC were ‘non-tamperable’ and with 100 per cent use of paper trail machines in all future elections the issue of tamperability of the machines ‘stands closed’. The “failure rate” of EVMs in most elections has been 0.7 per cent.

EVMs were first used in election in India in May, 1982 in a Kerala by-poll. But since there was no law prescribing its use, the Supreme Court struck down the election.
The Representation of the People Act was amended in 1989 to allow use of EVMs. But a general consensus on its use was evolved only in 1998. Over 11 per cent of the 10,300 VVPAT machines across 10 States had developed faults and had to be replaced during the by-polls on May 28 this year.


70 pc parties in favour of ballot paper: Congress


THE Congress on Monday said that over 70 per cent of political parties have put forth a demand before the Election Commission for reverting to the old voting system of ballot paper.Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said that the demand has been made since there are doubts on the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and asked the EC to reintroduce ballot papers from the next election.
“Around 70 per cent political parties have demanded that the EC revert to the old system of ballot paper during elections. The BJP was singled out today,” he told reporters here after the Election Commission held a meeting with national and regional parties.

The Congress leader said that alternatively the Opposition parties have suggested that in at least 30 per cent of the polling booths there should be paper trail of EVMs to check the authenticity of votes cast.

The Congress has demanded that ceiling be imposed on the expenditure by political parties during poll campaign, Singhvi said. Currently, there is a limit on poll expenses by a candidate in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies but there is no limit on the expenses made by a political party during elections.

“Unregulated party expenditure is a dangerous proposition. There should be a ceiling on the expenditure by political parties,” he said. The Opposition party has demanded weeding out of all duplicate and false voters from
the voters list to ensure a free and fair election. The party has alleged that there are 60 lakh duplicate names in the voters list for Madhya Pradesh and another 45 lakh for Rajasthan. Both the States go to polls later this year.



Parties urge EC to link Aadhaar with electoral rolls


SOME political parties urged the Election Commission (EC) on Monday to link Aadhaar number of voters with electoral rolls to weed out duplicate names, the poll panel said.
“Political parties urged the commission to link Aadhaar numbers with electors’ detail for better electoral roll management,” an EC statement said after an all-party meet. At least two Election Commission functionaries, who attended the meet, said, “25 per cent” of the 41 parties, which attended the meeting, made this demand.
In August, 2015, a Supreme Court order on Aadhaar card had put brakes on EC’s project to link UIDAI number with voters’ electoral data to check multiple entries in electoral rolls.