The electronic voting machines (EVMs) have been in the news of late with reports of manipulation in the number of votes surfaced.
Although the government as well as the Election Commission (EC) right away deny any complaints of rigging the EVM, the people are in a severe dilemma. The EC reiterate that no meddling is possible in the case of voting machines used in the country; that they were tamper proof. However, the reports that came to light recently, aggravates the skepticisms of the public. It’s the trust we had until now in the country’s election process that is jeopardized. Even though our democratic system has countless drawbacks, losing faith even in the electoral exercise that was deemed flawless so far, would only lead to anarchy. Singular aspersions have been raised earlier regarding the credibility of the voting machines. But lately BSP leader Mayawati and Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal approached the EC after the results of the Assembly polls in five states came out, raising serious allegations. Kejriwal alleged that 20-25 per cent of AAP votes went to Shiromani Akali Dal- BJP alliance.
At the same time, during an official media demonstration ahead of assembly by-polls in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh, the electoral officials found that the EVM dispensed only slips of BJP symbol whenever any button on the voting machine was pressed, much to the shock of the nation. Verifiable Paper Audit Trial (VPAT) facility that allows voters to ensure that their vote has been cast correctly, was what helped in finding out the meddling with EVMs. Although the reason has not been revealed so far, Bhind District Collector and Police Superintendent have been suspended after the news broke out. The EC have entrusted two groups including senior officers and technical experts to supervise the looming elections in both the constituencies in the state. The commission might have become vigilant after being convinced of severe rigging.
In the backdrop of the latest controversies, the BJP making a statement reinforcing trust in the Election Commission is conspicuous. The party rhetoric emerges, failing to recall the fact that the people have lost their faith in the EVMs and not in the Election Commission. Even as the political parties other than BJP and the public aren’t willing to accommodate the confidence of EC in the voting machines, rectification has become inevitable. The incidents in Madhya Pradesh warn that the Election Commission cannot proceed merely by dismissing the arguments that it was nothing beyond the allegations frequently raised by political parties that incur electoral losses after the polls. The EC asserts that the EVMs are tamper proof and that different High Courts and the Supreme Court have recognized its authenticity.
Several reasons have been pointed out by many foreign countries to ban EVMs and return to ballot papers. In Germany, the court banned EVMs due to the lack of stringent law to check their functioning. Netherlands banned the voting machines after finding that the machines lacked transparency and those connected with networks were more prone to manipulation. Even while the Direct Recording System connected to the networks in the US is being implemented across the nation, the credibility according to them is also not being questioned. The wrong impact of the Hindutwa party, that doesn’t hesitate to adopt tactics to seize power and establish supremacy over the country, is rampant in all aspects of governance. Given that fact, the people couldn’t be blamed for mulling over even the minute possibilities. It’s the responsibility of the EC to ensure that the elections are 100 per cent flawless. One of the solutions is to rampantly implement the VPAT facility that permits voters to confirm that they have cast votes to the right candidates. The decision of the EC to moot M3 voting machines is welcome. They could detect the defects as well as frauds on their own. Every machine has its own drawbacks. Let the EC take appropriate steps realizing that the power-hungry political class are those who look for shortcuts to beat even such systems.