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EVM tampering allegations: Kejriwal asks EC to release machines for probe

Delhi chief minister raised doubts on Monday over the BJP’s landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, demanding that the Election Commission release electronic voting machines for investigation into allegations of tampering and deliberate fixing.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2017 01:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
EVM tampering,Arvind Kejriwal,Election Commission
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with other leader’s leave at ECI headquarters after meeting the Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Saturday.(HT Photo)

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal raised doubts on Monday over the BJP’s landslide assembly poll victory in Uttar Pradesh, and asked the Election Commission to release electronic voting machines (EVM) for investigation into allegations of tampering and rigging.

Also, the Aam Aadmi Party chief demanded that the April 23 civic elections in New Delhi be postponed, or the poll panel should go back to the paper ballot.

“We demand the EC to release the EVMs so that it is open to scrutiny; we will investigate. Recent observations are alarming, paper ballot should be considered to replace EVMs,” Kejriwal said.

The commission dismissed the allegations and said its systems were tamperproof. It asked the AAP to introspect on its poll performance in Punjab, instead of blaming the EVMs — a comment that Kejriwal and other leaders have bristled against.

Kejriwal’s party came a distant runner-up, bucking projections that it will form the next government in Punjab — the party’s second after New Delhi.

He questioned the reliability of EVMs after the Punjab polls.

The Congress too joined the anti-EVM chorus after a purported video of an EVM tested ahead of by-polls in Madhya Pradesh showed the paper trail attached to it generating a receipt for the BJP. The state chief electoral officer Saleena Singh had pressed the button for the Samajwadi Party candidate.

A voter-verified paper audit trail or VVPAT allows a voter to know if the machine registered a vote for the candidate selected. The slip is visible for seven seconds before it drops into a box.

Kejriwal’s said his “experts” can show in 72 hours how the machines could be tampered to suit a political party.

The AAP alleged that EVMs for by-polls in Madhya Pradesh were shifted from Uttar Pradesh where assembly poll results were declared on March 11.

“All EVMs sent to Bhind were used in Uttar Pradesh’s Govind Nagar during the assembly elections. How can you allow that? Also, we have heard that VVPAT machines from UP were brought to conduct the Rajouri Garden bypoll,” Kejriwal said.

He alleged that the commission has violated its own rules, as EVMs from an election can’t be reused for 45 days — a period during which a person can petition against the result, which would warrant an examination of the machines.

“People are asking whether they should even bother to vote if the EVMS could be tampered … municipal elections should be held using paper ballots. It should be postponed if time is required to do that,” he said.

The nominations for elections to the three municipal corporations ended on Monday.

The commission said the party has levelled “baseless observations and allegations”.

“VVPAT machines are not required by the law to be retained in a strong room for the purpose of election petition and are available for use. However, in the by-polls only VVPAT machines kept in reserve, and not used during the polls, have been redeployed,” the panel clarified in a statement.

The standby machines go through the same rigorous protocol and kept ready.

“Hence, the VVPATs sent to Bhind had the previous symbols loaded from Uttar Pradesh. This is a standard protocol and there was nothing amiss in this,” the commission said.

The old symbols for contesting candidates are erased only before the next polls. “It was not done when a demonstration was made on March 31 in Bhind.”

First Published: Apr 03, 2017 16:57 IST