Sixteen Opposition parties on Tuesday urged the Election Commission to conduct future elections using the ballot system, saying allegations of Electronic Voting Machines being tampered with had created a “deep-seated trust deficit” on their reliability. “It has shattered the faith of the people in the fairness of the electoral process...It is incumbent upon the Election Commission to allay those fears and apprehensions,” they said in a memorandum submitted to the polling monitor, according to PTI.
The parties also criticised the Centre for not providing the EC with funds to put in place enough Voter Verified Paper Audit Trial machines for the 2019 general elections. VVPAT machines dispense a slip with the symbol of the party the voter has chosen on the EVM, which proves that the EVM had recorded the vote.
“We are not blaming the EC. EC feels EVMs are tamper-proof. Even the Pentagon is not foolproof,” said senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who, along with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader T Siva said that the commission will hold an all-party meeting to further discuss the subject.
The memorandum also highlighted the controversy in Ater constituency in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind district, where a VVPAT machine had purportedly dispensed a confirmation slip with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s symbol even though the electoral officer carrying out the demonstration had chosen the Samajwadi Party. The Opposition said the Centre’s silence on the matter “raises serious doubts about the intent of the government and its commitment to the conduct of free and fair elections”.
Opposition party representatives, during a meeting in Parliament earlier on Tuesday, had decided to jointly meet the Election Commission to put forth their demand. They included leaders of the Congress, DMK, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Left. They had earlier requested the EC to conduct the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, scheduled for later this year, using the ballot paper system in 50% of the constituencies and VVPAT machines in the others.