An electronic voting machine used at a booth in Nogaon Phadna village in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba district went missing on Monday after polls closed in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections. Officials reportedly noticed that the machine was missing while transporting it to the constituency strongroom in Mahoba town. It was recovered on Tuesday, with the seal intact, from the waiting room of the village bus stand.
“The machine was mislocated, not lost, as we found it later,” said DD Tiwari, the Election Commission’s media officer in Uttar Pradesh. However, he did not share details about how the machine was misplaced, where it was found and in what condition as all electronic voting machines are being scrutinised at present. Scrutiny of EVMs the day after polling is a regular feature of the election process.
The EVM was used in polling booth 27 in Nogaon Phadna in Panwari block, around 45 km from Mahoba town, said reporter Shantanu Soni. “The EVM was being taken by bus to Mahoba to keep in strong room and got lost at that time,” he said. “It was later recovered from the waiting room of the bus stand.”
Soni said that an investigation had been ordered but it was not clear if it had started. A video that he shared shows a person in an e-rickshaw announcing reward for information leading to the recovery of the voting machine.
“At 6 pm yesterday on April 29, 2019, an EVM at Phadna village was lost,” the man says in the video, which was filmed on Tuesday. “If anybody has found it or has information about this, please inform the authorities immediately. The person will receive a reward of Rs 10,000 and along with that, no legal action will be taken against him.”
District Magistrate Sahdev confirmed that village officials might have circulated messages of a reward while searching for the voting machine. However, he refused to share more details.
On April 28, three polling officials in the district suffered burns and had to be taken to hospital after a live electric wire brushed past the bus they were travelling in.