India is seen as a case study in modern electioneering and despite many parties arguing that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) are vulnerable to tampering, the election commission has stood its ground that they are secure. EVMs have become the centre of political drama in the country over the past month and the controversies seem to continue unabated.
The issue caught steam when former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati alleged EVM tampering as an excuse for her party’s defeat in UP and demanded fresh elections. Outgoing chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav echoed her sentiment saying a probe must be done if a question has been raised.
The Aam Aadmi Party and Congress have also claimed tampering in Punjab and Uttarakhand. AAP alleged that despite their assessment of the party’s good showing and massive support among voters in Punjab, they didn’t receive votes. It claimed their vote mysteriously went to Akalis who were suffering from anti-incumbency and huge public disliking and couldn’t possibly have won the amount of votes that they did.
Interestingly, the BJP has done the same in the past. LK Advani had stated in a book that “32 states in the USA have passed laws making VVPAT compulsory. The EC would be strengthening democracy if it contemplates similar legislation.” Kejriwal also demanded the EC should count VVPATs with EVM results.
After municipal poll results were announced in Maharashtra in early March this year, many defeated candidates alleged tampering of EVMs.
The protests surrounding EVMs and voting processes in India curiously start just before or during voting. In case of unfavourable poll results, parties advocate the need to hold paper ballot voting.
Earlier, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken wrote to the Delhi State Election Commission asking for MCD polls in Delhi to be held by paper ballot. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also advocated that voting should be held via paper ballot. Maken, though, didn’t claim tampering in the three states where Congress won public mandate, mainly in Punjab where it was in opposition.
The fact is most big political parties have in the distant or recent past raised the issue of vulnerabilities of EVMs. Whether the process is changed or not can only be decided by the election commission and until someone proves tampering, the process will hold a better record than paper ballots which has been used in a rampant manner for election fraud in the past.
The current protest, at the very least, needs to be sustained after election results for it to be considered legitimate and well meaning instead of just being a two-day affair which comes across as noise created to shadow election defeat.