Complaints of electronic voting machine malfunctioning were reported from some polling booths across Kerala and Uttar Pradesh as 117 constituencies went to polls in the third phase on Tuesday, reports said.
In Kerala, faulty electronic voting machines interrupted polling at seven booths in Alathur, 11 booths in Palakkad, seven booths in Kasaragod and 10 booths in Pathanamthitta, according to Manorama. Snags in EVMs were also reported from Cherthala in Alappuzha district and Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram.
However, Thiruvananthapuram District Collector K Vasuki dismissed reports of glitches in the machine in Kovalam, reported PTI. Senior Congress leader and sitting MP Shashi Tharoor is contesting against BJP’s Kummanam Rajasekaran and Left Democratic Front’s C Divakaran in this seat. Tharoor alleged that EVMs were registering only votes polled for the BJP, reported News18. He asked the Election Commission to take note of the matter.
Kerala Chief Minister P Vijayan, who voted at Pinarayi in Kannur district, told reporters that there was some problem in the voting machine in his booth and two other nearby places. “Election Commission officials have not taken serious efforts to ensure accuracy of the EVMs,” Vijayan said after casting his vote.
Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena accepted that there were problems in a few places, but urged people not to believe in rumours questioning the integrity of voting machines. The humidity caused by thunderstorms on Monday night has affected the functioning of the sensitive EVMs in a few booths in Thiruvananthapuram, Cherthala and Pathanamthitta, he added. Meena also dismissed reports of EVM tampering at a booth in Kovalam.
In Thiruvananthapuram, police arrested a voter for allegedly falsely claiming that a VVPAT machine had wrongly registered his vote, PTI reported. The presiding officer conducted a test vote after the man, Ebin, filed a written complaint, but Ebin was proved wrong and the police registered a case against him under Section 177 (furnishing false information) of the Indian Penal Code.
Officials said they allowed him to cast a test vote in the presence of the presiding officer and polling agents, who decided that his complaint was false. “As the test voting proved the allegation was false, he was handed over to the police,” District Collector K Vasuki, who is the District Election Officer, said.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the Election Commission’s decision to register a case against a voter was unacceptable. “How could voters prove technical glitches?” Chennithala asked.
Meena said cases would be registered against people who could not prove their complaints on malfunctioning EVMs. He said presiding officers should inform voters about this and if the voter insists to go ahead with the complaint, then the officer should ask them to give it in writing in the declaration form. If the complainant is proved wrong in the test vote, then the presiding officer can hand them over to the police, he said.
In Uttar Pradesh, voters complained of slow and non-functional EVMs in Firozabad, Bareilly and Aonla seats. There were also reports of problems with VVPAT at a booth in Firozabad.
In Bihar’s Supaul parliamentary constituency, voting got delayed because a faulty EVM had to be replaced, reported the Hindustan Times. In the South Goa seat, an entire set of EVMs had to be replaced, according to ANI. Technical problems in electronic voting machines were reported from a few polling booths in Belagavi in Karnataka, reported The Hindu.
Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar alleged foul play by the BJP and said he will complain to the poll panel, News18 reported. “During mock polling, all votes were getting registered in the BJP’s name despite pressing buttons of other parties,” he alleged.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav wondered if there was something “sinister” behind the malfunctioning of EVMs. “EVMs across India malfunctioning or voting for the BJP,” he tweeted. “District magistrates say poll officials untrained to operate EVMs. 350+ being replaced. This is criminal negligence for a polling exercise that costs Rs 50,000 crore.”
“Should we believe district magistrates, Election Commission, or is there something far more sinister afoot?” Yadav added.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wondered whether the EVMs which transferred votes only to the BJP were faulty or progammed that way. “Are these really faulty or programmed in this fashion?” Kejriwal said in a tweet.