The Karnataka government on Tuesday proposed to the Election Commission of India joint hosting of an Electronic Voting Machine challenge to clear doubts about its functioning. The government also requested the commission to make available 250 randomly selected EVMs to plan and execute this
challenge under it’s overall supervision.
“It is our combined duty to ensure that there is no doubt in the minds of voters -real or perceived. For this, I would like to propose hosting an EVM Challenge, jointly hosted by the Government of Karnataka and the EC,” Information Technology Minister Priyank Kharge today said. In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Jyoti, he also mentioned about inviting important stakeholders of the scientific community like technocrats, scientists, corporates, R&D institutes,startups and tinkerers and not just political parties, to participate in testing EVMs for errors.
Last month, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah demanded that ballot papers be used during the assembly polls in the state, due early this year. Expressing doubts about BJP’s performance in Gujarat despite anti-incumbency and strong undercurrents against it, Siddaramaiah had said, “the result is lending credence to that doubt about EVM.”
Kharge said for this challenge, individuals or interested parties can be allowed to test the EVM using instruments of their choice, and design documents, test descriptions and results, and security procedures used by EC can also be provided for the same. Results obtained can be made public and long-term testing by a team of experts can be initiated, if deemed necessary, he said. “The challenge needs to go beyond political parties and
should be open to all the young and bright minds in the country to ensure a pure scientific engagement with the community without a political agenda,” he said.
“The reason we should throw this challenge open beyond political parties is that a lot of individuals or corporates would not like to associate themselves with any political party,” he added. Apprehension about possible EVM tampering through Bluetooth technology was raised by the opposition Congress during the assembly elections in Gujarat, which the Election Commission had termed “baseless”.
Similar doubts about the credibility of EVMs were raised during the recently concluded civic polls in Uttar Pradesh and assembly elections earlier this year.