National

EC plays down VVPAT malfunction

Voters waiting to exercise their franchise at R.R. Nagar in Bengaluru on Monday.

Voters waiting to exercise their franchise at R.R. Nagar in Bengaluru on Monday.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Terms allegations exaggerated; Akhilesh demands restoration of paper ballots

Allegations of largescale malfunctioning of VVPATs and EVMs were reported from Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra during Monday’s bypolls for four Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly seats across 10 States.

The Election Commission (EC), however, termed them an exaggerated projection of reality, stating that defective machines were replaced.

The counting for all the seats will be on May 31.

Elections were also conducted in R.R. Nagar in Bengaluru, where polling had been deferred following allegations of electoral malpractice by political parties.

According to the EC, only 96 ballot and 84 control units of EVMs, besides 1,202 VVPATs had to be replaced. “It amounts to 0.76% of the ballot units, 0.81% control units and 11.60% of total VVPATs,” said an official.

The highest number of VVPATS (20.82%) were replaced in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana parliamentary constituency, followed by 19.22% in the Bhandara-Gondiya and 13.16% in the Palghar Lok Sabha constituencies of Maharashtra.

With the Opposition hoping to repeat the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha byelection victories of the Samajwadi Party, backed by the BSP, the focus was sharply on Kairana.

The constituency, however, reported a low turnout if 54.17% till 6 p.m.

The highest of turnout of 90.42% was recorded in Meghalaya’s Ampati Assembly constituency, followed by 76.60% in Shahkot and 75% in the Nagaland Lok Sabha constituency. In Maharashtra’s Bhandara-Gondiya, the turnout was 38.65% till 6 p.m. while in Palghar it stood at 46.5% till 5 pm.

Following reports of VVPAT malfunctions, a joint delegation of the RLD, SP and the Congress, besides a separate BJP delegation, met the EC. The Commission told them that VVPAT-related complaints had been attended to on the ground and that the issues raised by them would also be addressed.

Stating that there was no abnormality in EVM malfunctions, The Commission said VVPAT glitches were higher than the normal in Kairana and the Noorpur Assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh; and Bhandara-Gondiya.

“The VVPAT malfunctions could be due to first-time use by polling staff, extreme heat conditions, placement of machines under direct light and mishandling during use. The EC conducts root-cause analyses in such cases to improve in future,” the EC said.

However, former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and leaders of the Shiv Sena and NCP demanded restoration of ballot paper.

A total of 2,651 EVM control units, equal number of ballot units and 2,596 VVPATs were deployed in Kairana and Noorpur. In all, 384 VVPATs were replaced, and over 15 EVMs were also changed.

In Maharashtra, 4,246 EVMs and 5,360 VVPATs were used in Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya. 276 of the total 2,608 VVPATs were replaced in Palghar. Responding to reports of machine malfunctions, Palghar District Collector Dr. Prashant Narnaware said VVPATs were sensitive to light and heat.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 5:30:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ec-plays-down-vvpat-malfunction/article24018148.ece

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