THE ELECTION Commission came out strongly in defence of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) on Thursday, describing allegations of tampering as “baseless”, “speculative” and “wild”. BSP chief Mayawati was the first to question the accuracy of the machines and seek a repoll in Uttar Pradesh with paper ballots. Her demand, however, was rejected by the EC. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hopped on the bandwagon a few days later and said that his party’s loss in Punjab was due to EVM tampering. Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat too attributed the BJP’s victory to “EVM chamatkar (EVM magic)”.
In a bid to counter the barrage of allegations, the Commission on Thursday issued a detailed rebuttal, citing favourable court judgments and technical and administrative safeguards put in place to reaffirm its faith in the functioning of the EVMs. Referring to Mayawati’s complaint, the EC said it wasn’t specific and did not cite any concrete proof fudging.
“The Election Commission would like to underline that it always had a firm conviction and complete satisfaction that EVMs could not be tampered with. Its faith on the machine has never wavered through the conduct of elections in the last many years, including the nationwide general elections in 2004, 2009 and 2014,” the statement said.
Referring to the EC’s open challenge in 2009 to all those who alleged tampering of EVMs, the statement further said, “To date, no one has been able to actually demonstrate that EVMs used by the Election Commission can be tampered with or manipulated. What has been demonstrated or claimed to have been demonstrated is on a privately assembled ‘look-alike of ECI-EVMs’ and not the actual ECI-EVM.”
“However, the extraordinary measure of requiring demonstration in ECI HQ (headquarters) in 2009 was undertaken by the Election Commission in fulfilment of its responsibility not to allow even a small shade of doubt about any aspect of its operation and in order to set at rest any misgiving anywhere,” it said.
Citing a list of technical safeguards adopted, the EC reiterated that the software used in the machines is burnt into a One Time Programmable (OTP)/Masked chip so that it cannot be altered after manufacture. “Further, these machines are not networked either by wire or by wireless to any other machine or system. Therefore, there is no possibility of its data corruption,” the poll panel stated.
It also quoted several favourable high court judgments to buttress its case. As for introduction of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), it said that it has already informed the Supreme Court that it will install the requisite number of VVPATs once the government releases funds to the tune of Rs 3,174 crore. VVPAT provides the voter with a paper receipt of her vote cast for verification.EVMs can’t be tampered with, says EC