Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Thursday reiterated that the country would not revert to using ballot papers for elections, PTI reported. He said the Election Commission would not be “intimidated or bullied” into abandoning the use of Electronic Voting Machines.
“We are open to any criticism, any feedback, from any stakeholders, including political parties, because they are the biggest stakeholders,” said Arora. “But at the same time, we are not going to be intimidated or bullied or pressurised or coerced into giving up these [EVMs and voter verified paper trail machines] and starting the era of ballot boxes.”
Arora’s comments came a few days after a United States-based “cyber expert” claimed that the 2014 General Elections had been rigged. Syed Shuja on Monday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party had hacked EVMs using a modulator that transmits military-grade frequency.
Arora was speaking at an international conference in New Delhi on “Making our Elections Inclusive & Accessible” ahead of National Voters’ Day on Friday. “We are not going back to that era where we have ballot papers being lifted, musclemen being employed besides the delay in the counting and also too much harassment of polling staff on the ground,” he said.
Arora also asked why EVMs were being used as a “football” in a “motivated slugfest”. Following Shuja’s claims, several Opposition parties have asked for ballot papers to be used in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Arora said the 2014 General elections and the Delhi state elections held four months later had thrown up totally different results. “Since then, we have had elections in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tripura, Nagaland , Mizoram, and now Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan... the results have been completely different in different times,” he said “My simple question is that if the result is X, the EVM is right and if the result turns out to be Y, the EVM is faulted.”
Arora said EVMs and paper trail machines are manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited under extremely secure conditions. He added that six incidents of EVM malfunctions were reported during the recent Assembly elections in five states and the Election Commission had taken swift action.
“However, we are not happy even with those six incidents,” Arora said. “In elections, we should have zero tolerance for any incident of such nature.”