Crying hoarse

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/30/2018 11:30:52 AM IST

 Political parties were divided on reverting back to ballot paper in place of EVMs in elections and holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and Assemblies at an all-party meeting convened by the Election Commission that also discussed state funding. The all-party meeting was held on August 27 in New Delhi where the issue of fidelity of electoral rolls, election expenditure regulation and inclusion of print media in the election campaign silence period were also discussed. The Chief Election Commissioner A.K.Rawat assured the parties that having noted their views, he would get back on his observation and subsequently the road map to solution. One of the most crucial issue discussed was about the fate of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which were introduced on experimental basis in 1998. Much has been said about the issue of whether the EVMs are reliable or unreliable. It appears that the losing party invariably raises questions about the outcome and then blame it on the EVMs. In the past, the system was to use ballot papers which are stamped by the voter the inserted into the ballot box. The EVMs got rid of the large number of ballot boxes since the votes are entered in the computer which comprises of two units --control unit and balloting unit. These two are connected by a five-meter cable and when a voter presses a button against the candidate he/she wishes to vote for, the machine locks itself. The EVM can be opened only with a new ballot number. This way, EVMs ensure that one person gets to vote only once. However after 2004 election the BJP raised hue and cry over the reliability of EVMs. The cry became more hoarse after BJP again lost the 2009 election. The party blamed it on EVMs and accused the Congress of tampering. Again in 2014 the it was the turn of the Congress to raise hue and cry after the losses in several states. In order to ensure greater trust, the ECI installed the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) which allows voters the possibility to verify that their votes are cast as intended. This way, the VVPAT can serve as an additional barrier to changing or destroying votes. Many parties wanted to revert back to paper balloting system while a few wanted continuation of EVMs with VVPAT. The two opposite sides need to close the gap and ultimately a consensus is needed to resolve the matter once and for all. The old system (ballot paper) had many flaws- it required a lot of paper, many boxes were required to store the ballot papers and the ballot papers could be switched. The present EVM system is much better but again there are genuine cases where they have been tampered with by using some techniques. Though the EVMs may be superior due to technology, yet when it comes to tampering, there is practically no sign as it leaves no trail unlike ballot papers. The most important is to ensure genuine voters and which has to be the first priority. Issuing of voter identity card is a must that can be linked with the UIC or Aadhar card. However for whatever reasons, voter identity card is not made mandatory. Unless dubious voters are weeded out through a clean voter identity card , the electoral system will be flawed and it makes little sense as to which party wins or loses, since in the end the people and their democracy will continue to lose.


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