EC rejects Mayawati charge on EVM tampering

Special CorespondentNEW DELHI

Updated - March 12, 2017 12:51 am IST

Published - March 11, 2017 10:10 pm IST - New Delhi

Finding no merit in the BSP complaint, which alleged that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) had been tampered with in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand at the BJP’s instance, the Election Commission on Saturday said the party’s demand for a probe into the allegation was legally not tenable. The panel cited the orders of the Madras, Kerala, Karnataka and Mumbai High Courts, which upheld the use of EVMs. In its five-page response, the EC said it believed that the use of voting machines had in fact helped curb “several electoral malpracticesand resulted in the more efficient conduct of elections.”

Listing the prescribed administrative and technical safeguards adopted to ensure error-free functioning of EVMs, the EC said: “The Commission is, thus, fully satisfied with the tamper proof functioning of ECI-EVMs. Although the Commission has offered opportunities more than once to those alleging the tamperability of EVM, no one has been able to demonstrate to the Commission that the EVM used in the country’s election process can be manipulated or tampered with.”

Observing that the prescribed administrative safeguards had been fully complied with in the Uttar Pradesh and the Uttarakhand elections in the presence of the representatives of political parties or candidates, the Commission said it had not found any merit in the BSP’s allegations.

Soon after the vote counting trends showed that the BSP had performed badly, party supremo Mayawati on Saturday lodged a complaint with the electoral body alleging she had received information that the voting machines had been manipulated by tech-savvy experts hired by the BJP. She alleged that it was done in such a manner that votes polled in favour of the BSP and other parties would automatically get transferred to BJP candidates in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The complaint said the issue had consistently been raised by almost all the parties, except the BJP, after the 2014 general elections. Similar grievances were raised against the BJP in the recent Maharashtra municipal elections. She said it was impossible for the BJP to get so many votes in all the seats of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

However, in its reply to the BSP national general secretary Satish Chandra Misra, the EC said it had been successfully using EVMs since 2000 in every election and had full confidence in the “absolute credibility of ECI-EVMs”.

The Commission said voting machines were also endorsed by a technical expert committee appointed by the Centre, at the initiative of the Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms in 1990.

The EC highlighted the measures taken to ensure that voting machines were both mechanically and electronically protected to prevent any tampering or manipulation. It said the machine’s hardware and software could not be altered.

According to the Commission, before each election, the first-level checking is done for every EVM by engineers of the manufacturers, and a mock test is also carried out, in the presence of political parties’ representatives. After a certification from the manufacturer, the machines are sealed and the representatives put their signatures on the seals. After that they cannot be opened. The machines are put to use in the elections after proper verification, said the Commission.

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