The Election Commission of India on Wednesday said that it would be logistically possible to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly elections from September 2018, PTI reported. “But it is up to the government to take a decision and make necessary legal amendments for it,” Election Commissioner OP Rawat said.
The commission had also recently announced that the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines would be used at polling stations in all future elections where Electronic Voting Machines are used.
Rawat said that the Centre had asked the poll panel what it would need to hold simultaneous elections. In response, the commission had asked for funds, following which it received Rs 3,400 crore to buy Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines and Rs 12,000 crore for Electronic Voting Machines.
The poll body has placed the order for the machines and will get 40 lakh Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines by September 2018, he added. While the Bharatiya Janata Party has been pushing for simultaneous elections to state assemblies and Lok Sabha, not all political parties approve the idea.
The commission on Wednesday also unveiled a web-based application called Electoral Registration Officer network, which will help it conduct efficient elections. The network will automatically detect duplicate registration of voters, Rawat said. “Besides, officers from the booth-level to the national level would be under one network and would be able to communicate with each other.”
The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machine debate
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines are seen as a way to ensure credibility in the voting process. Voting machines connected to VVPAT dispense a slip with the symbol of the party the voter has chosen on the Electronic Voting Machine, which proves that it has recorded the vote.
Opposition parties have claimed that the Electronic Voting Machines currently in use are rigged in favour of the ruling BJP. Several parties including the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have insisted that the machines were manipulated in the last set of Assembly elections. The Election Commission has vehemently and repeatedly denied this, though.
Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines are manufactured by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited and the Bharat Electronics Limited.