No report from EC on EVM discrepancies 4 years after 2019 Lok Sabha electionstext_fields
New Delhi: In a recent report presented in the Lok Sabha, a Parliamentary panel has expressed its dismay over the delay in obtaining information from the Election Commission (EC) regarding possible discrepancies between the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The panel highlighted that identifying such issues is crucial for maintaining the security and integrity of the voting process.
The panel's investigation was initiated after an unstarred question regarding the "discrepancy in EVM and VVPAT" was raised on June 26, 2019. In response, the government had assured Parliament that the information was being collected and would be provided later. However, even four years after the assurance, the requisite data has not been received.
According to the Law and Justice Ministry, which was responsible for seeking information from the EC, multiple reminders were sent between March 2020 and June 2022. Despite these efforts, the required data is still awaited. The Legislative Department Secretary mentioned that the EC had been called to provide evidence but could not attend due to ongoing discussions with political parties.
The Parliamentary panel stressed that discrepancies between EVMs and VVPATs are critical to ensure the transparency and reliability of the electoral process. EVMs and VVPATs are designed to accurately reflect voters' choices, and identifying any deviations is essential to maintaining public trust in the voting system.
The 2019 Lok Sabha elections were the first to witness the 100% use of VVPATs, where each EVM was equipped with a VVPAT. After casting their votes, voters could view a printed paper slip in the VVPAT for seven seconds, displaying the name and symbol of the selected candidate. The slip was then dropped into a sealed box attached to the VVPAT. To verify the process, the EC randomly selected five polling stations in each Assembly constituency to cross-verify VVPAT slips.
The Association for Democratic Reforms recently petitioned the Supreme Court to direct the EC to cross-verify the EVM count with VVPAT slips. The petition argued that there was no procedure for voters to verify whether their vote had been accurately counted. The Supreme Court has asked the EC to respond to the petition.
The delay in obtaining the required information from the EC has raised concerns among lawmakers, indicating a lack of coordination between government departments. The Parliamentary panel urged the Legislative Department to prioritize the matter and promptly gather the necessary information from the Election Commission.