Opposition gatherings may once again tell the Election Commission on Friday about their “loss of faith” in electronic voting machines and to ensure a reliable mechanism for polling. The all-party conference will be held in Delhi, and it will also address electoral reforms. Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) set to outburst with a triple century, where Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance and BSP supremo Mayawati decline to a significant defeat in Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.
The poll committee is likely to seek suggestions for its proposed “EVM challenge,” which will afford a chance to those doubting Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to prove that these can tamper. There are considerations that the Commission may announce the ‘hackathon’ date. The meeting appears in the wake of doubts repeatedly promoted by many opposition parties on EVMs once results of assembly polls in five states published on March 11. The Bharatiya Janata Party cleaned to power in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
A day before the conference, Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party threw a current request to the poll panel, saying that given a chance it could prove how voting machines used in the assembly elections were pre-programmed to favor one party. AAP lawmaker Saurabh Bharadwaj forced the Election Commission to form a panel of representatives of all parties and experts from the consensus panel to examine the machines.
An IT engineer Bharadwaj used a lookalike machine in Delhi Assembly on Tuesday and challenged to have demonstrated how EVMs could be managed by tampering with its code and changing its motherboard. AAP activists even opposed outside the Election Commission headquarters in Delhi on Thursday upon alleged EVM tampering.
Leaders of 13 parties attended the Election Commission officials in April to convey their “complete loss of faith” in the EVMs and to necessitate the use of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and paper ballots in future polls. These opponent parties had also conveyed their concerns on the EVMs to President Pranab Mukherjee.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) general Mayawati had raised apprehensions about the tampering of EVMs the day Uttar Pradesh Association election results were out. The Trinamool Congress, Congress, and several other parties have raised their concerns over EVMs.
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The Election Commission to has frequently asserted that the EVMs cannot tamper. On May 4, the voting panel released a “Status Paper on Electronic Voting Machines” detailing the security measures adopted to make them tamperproof.
Congress leader and MP Vivek Tankha, a member of the Congress organization at the all-party meeting, told the Election Commission has to take a call on making the voting process trustworthy. “At the end of the time it (elections) is all about trust,” Tanaka told IANS.
Communist Gathering of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat said her party supports the use of paper trail system in each and every election. “It is a fact that the EVMs can be hacked. The only way to secure these against manipulations is to have a paper path system. So, every poll from now on has to have VVPATs,” Karat said.
Amid concerns proposed by the opposition, the Union Cabinet last month cleared the Election Commission’s proposal to buy VVPAT machines for the EVMs to ensure transparency in the voting process. The project involves getting 16,15,000 VVPAT units for EVMs at the cost of around Rs 3,173.47 crore for use in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.