The Election Commission of India has debunked all allegations of Electronic Voting Machines being tampered with in the recently-concluded Assembly polls. “The machine is electronically protected to prevent any tampering/manipulation,” the polling monitor said in a statement issued on Thursday.
Giving technical details of how EVMs are manufactured and function, the EC said the software used in these machines can never be altered. “Therefore, there is no possibility of data corruption.”
The clarification comes in the backdrop of Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati raising doubts about the efficacy of these machines. Aam Aadmi Party National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal, too, had demanded using only the paper ballot system to conduct the upcoming Delhi civic body polls. Kejriwal had written to the EC urging it against using EVMs after Mayawati said the machines were manipulated during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.
The BSP chief has claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party had won the UP elections with a massive majority only because EVM tampering had allowed voters to only choose the BJP. Votes cast for other parties had also been given to the BJP because of this rigging, she had alleged.
Moreover, the Election Commission has also addressed the question on foreign countries not using the voting machines. “ECI EVMs are standalone machines. Most of the systems used in other countries are computer-based and linked to the internet. Hence, these could be vulnerable to hacking,” it said, adding that such comparisons were “both misplaced and misguided”.
The EC also denied claims of procedural lapses. “Before every election, a first-level check is done for every EVM to be used in the election by the engineers of the manufacturers, in the presence of political party representatives.”
Regarding the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, the polling body said it would need Rs 3,174 crore from the government to introduce this system. The EC has also informed the Supreme Court that it will take 30 months after the funds are released to get the VVPATs in place.
The ECI’s clarification comes the same day former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi told Scroll.in that the accusations by political parties against EVMs were baseless. However, he agreed that for greater transparency regarding the voting machines, the Narendra Modi government at the Centre must implement the Supreme Court’s suggestion of putting paper trails in place, apart from speeding up other electoral reforms. Quraishi was chief election commissioner from July 2011 to June 2012.