At least 17 political parties are likely to approach the Election Commission of India (ECI), demanding 2019 general elections be conducted on the ballot paper and not Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Sources in the Opposition said that they would seek time with the ECI next week. The Opposition has been critical regarding use of EVMs in elections while claiming that the machines could easily be tampered to manipulate poll results.
The Opposition has often attacked by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleging tampering of EVMs to tilt poll results to their favour.
Several political leaders in the country have expressed their distrust in EVMs. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said, “The party leaders should be careful with EVMs. Party cadre should be on full alert. The central government is taking all systems including the Election Commission into its control. There is a possibility of misusing the EVMs. Party should be very careful in this regard.”
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has also favoured the use of ballot papers and not EVMs. When reports of faulty EVMS emerged during the by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, the former Chief Minister said, “There is growing mistrust (over EVMs) in people. They don’t trust the machines anymore. We demand that future elections should be conducted on a ballot paper.”
Estranged ally the Shiv Sena has also echoed Opposition’s allegations of EVM tampering, and pitched for use of ballot papers in elections to clear such doubts.”Just one time, I want the BJP to head into elections with ballot papers and not EVMs. All the apprehensions will go away,” said Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
However, countering the allegations the BJP said that the Opposition’s mere allegations were basically an attempt to cover up their own defeat in elections. Downplaying the criticism, the ECI had said that a large number of EVMs and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) of around 20-25 percent were kept available to replace any defective machine on the election day at the polling booth.
Normally these reserved EVMs/VVPATs are kept with sector officers, who replace the defective ones if reports of malfunctions are received from any polling station.
The ECI further noted that the replacement of defective EVMs or VVPATs during actual polls is a normal process and does not vitiate the integrity or credibility of the poll process in any way whatsoever.