Opposition raises EVM issue with EC, seeks use of paper ballots

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NEW DELHI : Opposition parties on Monday approached the Election Commission expressing their "complete loss of faith" in EVMs and demanded use of VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) and paper ballots in upcoming polls.

 

A delegation of 13 opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Left parties, among others, met the poll panel following allegations of electronic voting machine (EVM) tampering during the February-March assembly polls in five states as well as the Sunday by-polls in several states.

"Going by what happened in the recent polls, be it the people or political parties, all have lost faith in EVMs. Therefore, the Election Commission should revert to using the old system of paper ballot instead of EVMs," senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said after the meeting. 

"Representatives of 13 parties put forth their views about the EVMs to the EC. We told them that free and fair polls cannot be ensured unless EVMs are taken out of use," he said. 

Congress leader Anand Sharma said the poll panel assured of calling an all-party meeting soon to discuss the concerns about the EVM.

"The EC heard each political party patiently and the grievance was unanimous -- lack of faith in EVMs. The EC assured that an all-party meeting will be convened soon and it will seriously examine our grievances," he said. 

Opposition parties, particularly the Congress, the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), have been demanding reverting back to the paper ballots in place of the "tamper-prone" EVMs. 

In a memorandum submitted to the EC, the opposition parties said: "We wish to draw your attention to the alleged cases of malfunctioning and tampering of of EVMs that have raised bona fide concerns on the possibility of manipulating the electoral outcome. This, we believe, can undermine the trust the people of India have in the integrity of the electoral process."

"It is requested that till the time the issues of tampering and malfunctions of the EVMs are addressed and the tamper-proof and flawless functioning of EVMs is technologically established and endorsed globally, to the satisfaction of the political parties, the forthcoming elections should be conducted under the old paper ballot system," it added.

It further said: "That continues to be a permissible mode of balloting accepted worldwide and the discretion of the Election Commission under Section 61A should be exercised only after all issues, as raised above, are addressed by the Election Commission to the satisfaction of all political parties."

The opposition parties' meet with the EC came on a day when Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal blamed the poll panel for the "tampering" and accused it of favouring the Bharatiya Janata Party. 

Kejriwal alleged that what was being dismissed as "EVM malfunction" was actually a case of tampering to ensure that the BJP got the votes of even other parties.

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