An RTI query has revealed that an Electronic Voting Machine or EVM at a zilla parishad election booth in Buldhana district had malfunctioned — effectively displaying the LED light in front of the name of the BJP candidate when the button in front of an Independent candidate’s name was pressed.
The query was made by activist Anil Galgali from Mumbai on June 20 to the Buldhana Collector. The information office of the election department at the Buldhana Collector’s office wrote back to Galgali on July 1, confirming the malfunctioning of the machine as well as providing him with all the basic documents pertaining to the incident.
The documents contained a letter by Independent candidate Asha Arun Zore fighting the elections from Sultanpur area of Lonar tehsil in the district. The EVM complaint related to booth number 333 at polling centre number 57/6 in Sultanpur. The reply confirmed that Presiding Officer Ramnarayan Sawant and Election Officer Manikrao Baajad had checked the machine’s functioning following a complaint by a voter that when he pressed the button in front of Zore’s name, the LED light in front of the BJP candidate had blinked.
“The check was carried out in front of representatives of the candidates to confirm the malfunctioning. The machine was later sealed,” the officials said in their report. In his letter to the Chief Election Commissioner of the state on February 16, then Buldhana Collector Vijay Zade said, “Enquiry by the Chief Election Inspector of Buldhana has confirmed that the complaint of EVM malfunctioning by Independent candidate Asha Zore was found to be correct. I concur with his report and request you to kindly order fresh polling at polling centre 57/6.” The re-poll was subsequently conducted on February 21.
In a statement, Galgali has demanded that “to avoid such repetition in future the Election Commission should think of other alternatives and a new system to cast votes be devised instead of the EVM”.
The State Election Commission has, however, said that it was not possible to hack EVMs. “It was an incident which was handled at the local level by the district collector of Buldhana. The EVMs that are used for conducting elections are tamper-proof and cannot be hacked,” said Maharashtra State Election Commissioner J S Sahariya.
(With ENS, MUMBAI)