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EVMs tamper-proof, problem lies with VVPATs, says former EC chief Navin Chawla

Former chief election commissioner Navin Chawla said the error rate of VVPATs reported is about 5% and may be higher

india Updated: Aug 05, 2018 08:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
electronic voting machines,Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails,Paper ballots
Former EC chief Navin Chawla claimed that the efficiency of the EVMs is not in doubt. (File Photo)

It is not the electronic voting machines (EVMs), but the technical glitches reported in the use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) that have set off concerns about the technology, former chief election commissioner (CEC) Navin Chawla said on Saturday.

EVMs equipped with VVPATs were used in last year’s elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, allowing voters to verify that their vote had indeed gone to the candidate of their choice. VVPATs were aimed at ensuring transparency in the voting process.

On Thursday, as many as 17 opposition parties revived their demand for reverting to paper ballots in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Leaders of these parties familiar with the development said EVMs, even if they come equipped with the VVPATs, would not be acceptable and they will meet the Election Commission over the next week to push their demand.

Chawla claimed that the efficiency of the EVMs is not in doubt.

“I believe I speak for all of the former chief election commissioners when I say that the electronic voting machine by itself is tamper-proof. The EVMs were used over the years in several elections before they were comprehensively used during the 2004 general elections. They have been used subsequently in 2009 and 2014 general elections as well,” he said.

Referring to the glitches that were reported when the VVPATs were pressed into service during the recent bypolls in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana and Maharashtra’s Bhandra-Gondiya, Chawla said: “The problem I believe lies with the VVPATs. The use of VVPATs has only recently started; after being selectively used in some elections on a trial basis. The error rate of VVPATs reported is about 5% and may be higher.”

He went on to add: “I can’t say whether the error is on account of the staff not being trained adequately or because of intrinsic problems; but it is these errors that are creating doubts in political parties.”

The Election Commission, on its part, has attributed the glitches to direct light falling on the sensors, and technical issues set off by humidity that in turn affected the thermal paper used in the VVPAT machines.

The former CEC also suggested that tallying of votes recorded in the VVPTAs and EVMs should be done on a larger scale. “Also, at the moment the results are tallied only in one polling station in each constituency. This should be increased to about 5-10% of the total constituencies as this will assuage the doubts of political parties,” he said.

The election commission has reiterated that it will continue to use EVMs along with the VVPATs in all forthcoming elections. The commission has also urged political parties to refrain from casting aspersions on the efficacy and security of these machines, pointing out that these are not only programmed to prevent manipulation or tampering, but are also made to go through stringent checks before polling.

First Published: Aug 05, 2018 07:16 IST