The Election Commission will soon throw an “open challenge” following allegations of manipulation and tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs) during elections to “put all doubts to rest”, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday.
“We will soon fix a date for this open challenge. In 2009, too, the ECI had thrown an open challenge for anyone to demonstrate how EVMs owned by the ECI can be tampered with. No one could prove it,” the Express quoted an unnamed source as saying.
“Since such apprehensions have been raised once again, we have decided to repeat the exercise to put all doubts to rest,” the source told the newspaper.
The Express reported that representatives from political parties, people who know the technology, organisations, and individuals who have raised doubts about the integrity of the EVMs will be invited to participate in the challenge.
Several political parties have raised doubts over the reliability of the EVMs after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) unexpectedly massive victory in Uttar Pradesh elections last month.
Following the Aam Aadmi Party’s underwhelming performance in the Punjab assembly polls, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had alleged that the EVMs could be manipulated.
On Monday, Kejriwal asked the poll panel to release the EVMs for an investigation into allegations of tampering and rigging and said his “experts” can show in 72 hours how the machines could be tampered to suit a political party.
The commission rejected the allegations made by Kejriwal as “completely baseless” and said that they were made without verifying the facts.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati had also blamed faulty EVMs for her party’s rout in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Kejriwal, the Samajwadi Party as well as the Congress had echoed those allegations. At the time, the poll watchdog had rejected the charge.
These parties have demanded that EVMs should not be used for elections unless equipped with a Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) facility.
The issue of faulty EVMs was raised again after reports that a VVPAT machine used during a trial in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind only dispensed slips with the ruling BJP’s poll symbol.