EVMs AND THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING IT: THE SAGA CONTINUES

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The debate around allegations of some Opposition parties that electronic voting machines (EVMs) can be rigged continues. Just recently Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking random verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in the ensuing Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh. In his plaint the senior Congress leader along with the other senior leaders of the Congress party from the state submitted a draft to the Election Commission of India (ECI) stating 60 lakh duplicate, repeat, multiple, illegal, invalid, false etc. entries/voters in the electoral rolls of Madhya Pradesh for Assembly Elections, 2018.

He further highlighted that the ECI dropped more than 24 lakh genuine voters from the list published in January 2018. Mr. Nath then makes reference to a judgment rendered by the Supreme Court in 2013, wherein it had directed usage of VVPAT machines for all forthcoming elections in a phased manner, and demands an overhaul of the operation of the machines. Further, he suggested to increase the visibility time of VVPAT paper trail from 7 seconds to 15 seconds, making sure the paper trails are sealed in a box and preserved for at least 120 days, immediate recounting of votes if a candidate is not satisfied, and using high-quality thermal printers and thermal papers at polling booths. He has also sought a direction to the ECI to not post in key positions, any such officials who are facing any disciplinary proceeding or inquiry.

This isn’t the first time that the Election Commission has come under fire from the opposition. The opposition has been alleging a possible collusion between the ruling party and the Election Commission of India as a result of which EVMs have come under line of fire. There have been allegations of EVM rigging in UP elections. Election Commission in order to come out clean introduced VVPAT in the Gujarat state elections. In the month of June in 2017, Election Commission introduced EVM Hackathon to come out clean for once and for all. It was an open competition for all the political parties and this challenge was open for 5 days. However, only two political parties participated namely NCP and CPI(M).

While the usage of EVMs are now looked from a political angle, it is also pertinent to note here that the panchayat level elections conducted in West Bengal earlier this year has also stirred up the controversy as to whether return to the old days of conducting election or not. Elections were conducted via Ballot papers this time around which resulted into allegedly multiple riggings. Whether to go with the traditional means or with modern EVMs is still a question to be discussed, the solution to it appears to be solved no time sooner.

By- Anany Upadhyay

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