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EC says EVMs can’t be tampered with, discusses security measures at all-party meet

After Mayawati’s BSP and Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP alleged that EVMs used in assembly polls were manipulated to benefit the BJP, several parties marched to the EC to express their concerns.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2017 10:37 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
EVMs,EVM issue,Arvind Kejriwal
An all-party called by the Election Commission underway to discuss issues related to EVMs at Constitution Club in New Delhi.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Several political parties urged the Election Commission on Friday to make the polling system more transparent and increase the use of voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines as the poll panel assured them that its electronic voting machines (EVMs) were secure and can’t be manipulated.

Representatives of 7 national parties and 48 state parties were invited by the poll panel for the meeting, that is likely to last several hours, at the Constitution Club in New Delhi in order to reassure the opposition about the reliability of the EVMs.

A host of opposition parties - chiefly the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) - have alleged that EVMs were tampered with in the February-March assembly elections in 5 states and the just concluded civic polls in Delhi.

Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, also petitioned the poll panel as well as President Pranab Mukherjee about the vulnerability of the EVMs.

“The chief election commissioner assured the reliability of the EVMs and asserted they were secured and cannot be tampered with,” Janata Dal(United) leader KC Tyagi, who left the meeting midway for another engagement, said.

“After the CEC’s address experts from IITs also sought to clarify doubts that many political parties have about the reliability of the EVMs. Let us see, what is the outcome of this meeting,” he added.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Manjinder Singh Sirsa said there have been 37 cases in various courts regarding EVM tampering so far.

“The judgments in 30 of those cases have come and all 30 have been in favour of the EVMs being tamper-proof,” the legislator from Rajouri Garden said.

Emerging from the meeting, Congress leader Vivek Tankha said his party wants a “trustworthy system” that should satisfy the voters.

“They have to give more than seven seconds for the voter to see who they have voted for. The Congress demands a system with authenticity, transparency and reliability,” he added.

Tankha also questioned the proposed introduction of electoral bonds, saying that the system will not be transparent.

BJP legislator from Rajouri Garden Manjinder Singh Sirsa said: “The EC today informed in detail about the security features of the EVMs and asserted that they cannot be tampered with at all.”

Atul Anjan of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) suggested a return to paper ballots. “Even in the US where they have super computers, they use ballot paper. The EVMs can be hacked. Our party demands state funding of elections. There should be more transparency in political funding,” he said.

Trilok Tyagi of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) said that his party demanded more use of VVPATs. “The time for viewing votes on the VVPAT should also be increased. We also demand state funding of elections.”

Sanjay Saraf of the Lok Jan Shakti party lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party for making “frivolous charges” against EVMs. “Manish Sisodia was busy on his phone during the meeting,” he claimed.

AAP legislator Saurabh Bharadwaj, during a special session of the Delhi assembly, claimed to have demonstrated the procedure for tampering with an EVM.

The poll panel dismissed his assertion outright saying the machine used by Bharadwaj was a “lookalike” of an ECEVM and therefore could be used to demonstrate “any magic” or tampering.

Many parties, including the RLD, also sought measures to prevent the ruling party from using its position to splurge money on advertisements and other heads in the run-up to the elections, sources present at the meeting said.

First Published: May 12, 2017 13:44 IST