Amid the ongoing debate over whether Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) can be manipulated, the Election Commission said it will hold a press conference Saturday to announce the dates of the ‘EVM challenge.’ On the sidelines of the press conference, the poll panel will demonstrate live the working of EVMs and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines to prove that they are infallible.
Several opposition parties like the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress have levelled allegations of EVM tampering in the recently concluded state elections. The AAP also demonstrated, in a special Delhi Assembly session, how an EVM machine can be allegedly tampered using a special code that can be fed to it during the voting process. The EC has refuted those charges and is likely to throw the ‘open challenge’ to all political parties this month in which they can attempt at proving the tampering of the machines.
The EC has also said that VVPAT machines will be used in all upcoming elections so that voters can verify with the help of the paper slip whether the vote has indeed gone to the party that they voted for. The paper slips can also be used to resolve any dispute arising in an election. The decision was announced after a day-long all-party meeting. At the meeting, several parties raised the issue of tampering of the EVMs and some like the Trinamool Congress, RJD and BSP even suggested going back to paper ballots.
At the all-party meeting, parties like the RLD, CPI and NC also raised objections to the recent amendments to the Companies Act of 2013 which removed the cap of 7.5 per cent on corporate contribution to political parties.
In response to Arvind Kejriwal’s questioning of the independence of two election commissioners, CEC Nasim Zaidi said the EC stands equidistant from all the parties. “You should be convinced that EC has no favourites… we maintain equidistance from all parties and groups. It is our constitutional and moral duty to stand dead centre of the circle drawn around us by 56 political parties.”