Editorial

Machine over man

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/25/2019 12:02:17 PM IST

 With the completion of the third phase of polling for the Lok Sabha election 2019, opposition parties have again reiterated their fears of Electronic Voting Machine(EVM) tampering and raised serious doubts about the reliability of the machines. The 21 Opposition leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, approached the Supreme Court to direct the Election Commission of India for counting of at least 50 percent of the Voter Verifiable Paper Trial(VVPAT) slips with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in every assembly segment. The Election Commission had opposed the plea by 21 Opposition parties to raise VVPAT verification from one EVM in one Assembly segment to 50% of polling booths, saying it would take six days to complete the counting of votes. The Election Commission had opposed the plea by 21 Opposition parties to raise VVPAT verification from one EVM in one Assembly segment to 50% of polling booths, saying it would take six days to complete the counting of votes. VVPAT stands for Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail. It is an independent system attached with the electronic voter machine (EVM) that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. In response to their plea, the Supreme Court on April 9, directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment, from one at present. The apex court opined that this would provide greater satisfaction not just to political parties but the entire electorate. However, the 21 Opposition parties filed a review petition in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to increase VVPAT verification from five to at least 50% of EVMs during counting of votes in the general elections 2019. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “programming” electronic voting machines to win the Lok Sabha elections, while his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu said 21 political parties have demanded verification of VVPAT paper trails of 50 per cent of the EVMs. Malfunctioning of EVMs reported during the three phases of polling so far held, has only heightened the suspicion of the opposition about the unreliability of the machines. During the recently held third phase of polling, Akhilesh Yadav pointed out that malfunctioning of EVMs were far too many and claimed that even District Magistrates expressed concern that poll officials were not properly trained to handle EVMs of which 350 had to be replaced. The EC has to give a satisfactory explanation on how so many EVMs had malfunctioned when there is already strong suspicion about some complicity with the ruling dispensation at the Centre. Of course, the suspicions have to be proven beyond reasonable doubt but nevertheless, the ECI has to take the initiative in taking preventive measures to ensure that such problems are rare. The ECI should not stick to its “blind faith” in the EVMs. It is not the responsibility of the ECI to defend the EVMs but to assure all political parties including the voters that it will be responsive to complaints. The demand for VVPAT counting may take time but the ECI should not be so bothered about that. Rather the ECI should be more concerned about people’s trust on it rather than on the EVMs.

 

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