The Election Commission on Sunday said it would soon replace more than 9 lakh electronic voting machines with devices that cannot be manipulated, hours after the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress raised doubts about their infallibility. The EC is believed to be in the process of purchasing new machines that will “become inoperable” in the event of tampering, and these will be introduced by 2018, PTI reported.
The commission claimed that the new EVMs, which will be sourced from one of two public service utility companies, would be able to communicate with each other and flag inconsistencies in case an unauthorised EVM was used during a particular election. The new machines will cost around Rs 1,940 crore. The last time the commission purchased EVMs en masse was in 2006, and these are nearing the end of their 15-year shelf life, the PTI report added.
Earlier in the day Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had asked the commission to investigate whether the EVMs used in the last few Assembly elections were rigged to favour the Bharatiya Janata Party. Kejriwal had met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and suggested that ballot papers be used in the country as they had been in the past. The Congress, too, had made similar claims to the commission, saying people were losing faith in the integrity of the voting machines.
The commission, however, reiterated that the EVMs currently in use are tamper-proof and asked Kejriwal to “introspect on its defeat” in the Punjab Assembly elections, instead of doubting the equipment.
Several parties, including the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, have claimed that the EVMs are rigged to support the BJP. The chorus has grown since the saffron party routed the others in the Uttar Pradesh elections.