After the Assembly elections of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the critics of EVMs have been pacified to a great extent, but there are people who are still asking for ballot paper voting. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is one of them. While Congress has conceded to the defeat in Gujarat, its supporter Hardik Patel is continually repeating that EVMs have been tampered with by BJP to win the elections, refusing to accept the prospect of an honest victory. Earlier, Hardik had sprung a challenge to win more than 10 seats as a consequence of his stronghold in Saurashtra. He had even declared that if BJP win more than 10 seats from the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, he would drop his demand for Patidar reservation. While his opponents remind him of his vow, Hardik continues to assert the BJP victory was due to faulty EVMs.
In view of the debate surrounding EVMs, the Election Commission had conducted elections through EVMs by connecting them with VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails) as asked by many political leaders who had developed suspicion against EVMs. Through this system, a voter can verify whether his vote has gone to the candidate of his choice or not by looking at the paper coming out from the VVPAT machine. Within seconds, the paper falls into a box meant for that. The Supreme Court had ordered to connect VVPAT with all EVMs and the Election Commission complied with this order and decided to implement it for all elections. Hence, as far as the voter’s satisfaction is concerned, it has been achieved by the Election Commission. There are some people who suspect that the VVPAT paper may not be in consonance with EVMs votes and hence they want the counting of VVPAT papers as well. Just before the counting of votes, Congress had moved to the Supreme Court, asking fora counting of 25 percent of VVPAT voters slip and comparison with the votes revealed by EVM. The Supreme Court rejected the petition and asked the Election Commission to go according to its own rule and regulation. The Election Commission had made an arrangement of the counting of VVPAT vote slips in one polling booth of each Assembly constituency and the verification of the results given by their attached EVMs. The selection of the polling stations was made randomly in the presence of all candidates or their representative. It was found that all 182 VVPAT machines returned the same number of votes as shown by the attached EVMs. It means 100 percent EVMs were found to be correct and working properly. Had there been even a single case of discrepancy between the VVPAT votes slip and EVM, we could have believed that Hardik Patel had some merit in his argument. The hundred percent efficacy , however, shows that there is no ground for the suspicion of EVM tampering if the it is connected with a VVPAT. It is true that EVMs may sometimes fail to work properly. During counting it was observed that the votes of one station had some discrepancies. It was a case of malfunctioning of that particular machine. The issue was resolved by counting the VVPAT vote slips for that polling station and all were satisfied by the decision. Hence, VVPAT can provide helping hands at the time of counting when the number of votes recorded at the time of voting is different from the number of votes found at the time of counting.
The criticism of EVMs should stop now and questioning the integrity of Election Commission should also come to end. It is useless talk to ask for voting through ballot papers, because they are more problematic. Voting through ballot papers causes wastage of papers and is prone to booth capturing. Counting takes too much time in ballot papers and too much time creates different set of problems by creating tension inside and outside counting stations. Why should we waste time, money and energy in ballot paper voting, if the voting through EVM connected with VVPAT machine had emerged to be winner in the last Assembly Elections?
-Contributed by Kriti Prasad
Picture Credits: indiatoday.com