No returning to paper ballot system, EVM challenge on June 3: Election Commission


Online voting is not feasible keeping in mind the security systems required to maintain its integrity, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said today. He said the EC had formed a committee to examine the issue and its report was submitted to the Supreme Court and the Law Ministry. The EC found that the system of online voting is not practical today given the level of security required to keep the process tamper-proof.

There is no need of reverting to the paper ballot system, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said. He said that majority of the political parties which participated in the all-party meeting here on May 12 had supported use of EVMs with paper trail machines.

“Ballot paper ki oor jane ka prashna hi nahin hai (There is no question of going back to the paper ballot system),” he said responding to a question.

He said the commission is considering a demand of parties to increase the time the paper trail slip is visible to the voter as an acknowledgement receipt for the party he voted for in the election.

The voters see voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slip for seven seconds. The slip then drops in a box and the voter cannot carry it home. Parties want the slip to be visible for 15 seconds.

He said the commission has already announced that in all future elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies VVPAT machines would be attached to all electronic voting machines.

The process would begin with Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat later this year.

With the Centre releasing Rs 3,173 crore for acquiring 16.15 lakh VVPAT machines, these will be used in all polling stations in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The production will start in August and delivery would be made in September, 2018.

The challenge to prove that EVMs can be tampered with will start from June 3, the Election Commission announced today, asserting that the machines are tamper-proof. The announcement came over a week after the Election Commission threw down the gauntlet to political parties to prove that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) used in the recent assembly polls were tampered with.

“The EVM challenge will start from June 3,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said, addressing a press conference.

He said people who had questioned reliability of EVMs have not yet submitted any proof or credible material to support their claim.

Zaidi said replacement of the internal circuit of EVMs is not possible at all.

“Our EVMs have strong technological features and are tamper-proof,” he said.

Zaidi rubbished the Aam Aadmi Party’s claim that EVMs could be tampered with, and said no manipulation of the machines is possible.

He also said that improving the election process is a responsibility of all stakeholders and the EC is taking all necessary steps in this regard.

Several major opposition parties had claimed that the faith of people in the machines has eroded.

The BSP and AAP had alleged that the machines used in the recent assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab were tampered with and favoured the BJP. Later, several other parties had joined the chorus and waned the EC to revert to paper ballots.

The EC has already announced that it will ensure paper trail of voting in all future elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.

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