Hundreds of AAP workers on Thursday blocked a road outside the Election Commission headquarters in New Delhi protesting against alleged tampering of Electronic Voting Machines and demanding use of VVPAT-equipped EVMs for future elections. Delhi Minister and AAP leader Gopal Rai, who is among the protesters, said “manipulation” of EVMs was “killing democracy”. “We demand that the questions that have been raised regarding EVMs are resolved. Questions were raised in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab etc, so we want to appeal to the ECI that they give us their machine and we will show them by hacking it. Secondly, we want that the Supreme Court’s 2013 order of conducting elections by VVPAT should be implemented, and third, voting machine and the slips should be tallied,” Rai was quoted as saying by ANI.
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) EVMs dispense paper slips enabling voters to verify that their vote has gone to the candidate of their choice.
AAP also plans to approach the EC requesting that votes registered in EVMs and paper trails of 25 per cent randomly chosen booths be tallied, reported PTI.
Earlier this week, AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj had demonstrated alleged hacking of an EVM in Delhi Assembly, claiming that a “secret code” could be used to do so. Bhardwaj had used a prototype EVM for the purpose.
“EVM manipulation is a real possibility and should be looked into immediately,” R K Gupta, an AAP worker from Dwarka told PTI. “This is how BJP won polls in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Even the division along caste lines could not have helped them with such a huge victory,” alleged Pragati, another AAP worker, who had travelled from Mundka to EC headquarters in central Delhi.
The poll panel had, however, refuted AAP’s claims, saying such demonstrations “cannot be exploited to influence our intelligent citizens and electorate to assail or vilify the EVMs used by the Commission””.
“It is common sense that gadgets other than ECI EVMs can be programmed to perform in a pre-determined way but it simply cannot be implied that ECI EVMs will behave in the same manner because the ECI EVMs are technically secured and function under an elaborate administrative and security protocol,” EC said in a statement. In April, Opposition parties led by the Congress urged EC to revert to the ballot system of voting considering how the accuracy of EVMs was now being questioned.
The poll panel has called for an all-party meet on May 12 to discuss the EVM issue. Seven national and 48 state parties have been invited by to the meeting as part pf efforts to allay fears over alleged hacking of EVMs. The EC is also likely to throw an “open challenge” to prove allegations of EVM tampering.