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Voting machine tamper-proof: poll panel

CHENNAI, JULY 24. "Electronic voting machines (EVM), being used by the Election Commission in general elections, are tamper-proof and it is extremely difficult to meddle with the machines," the Deputy Election Commissioner, A.N. Jha, said today.

Reacting to the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa's charge that it was possible to tamper with the EVMs with microchips, he said the machines were introduced only after they were cleared by a high-power committee and a team of experts headed by P.V. Indiresan, former Director of the Indian Institute of Technology. They were unanimous that the EVMs were tamper-proof, robust and sturdy, Mr. Jha told newsmen here.

The EVMs were introduced in a phased manner from 1998. First they were tried in a few Lok Sabha constituencies, then in a few Assembly elections and finally throughout the country. The introduction of the machine was challenged in various High Courts, including in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, and also in the Supreme Court. But the courts unanimously upheld the use of EVMs by the commission. They described EVMs as a great achievement. The apprehension among some political parties that rigging was possible through the EVMs was unfounded.

On the Chief Minister's remark that even in advanced countries such as the United States only ballot papers were being used, Mr. Jha said the Indian and U.S. systems could not be compared as they were built on a different basis. If a defeated candidate had any doubt about the genuineness of the EVMs, he could file an election petition.

No proof from AIADMK

Mr. Jha said the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam representative and Finance Minister, C. Ponniyan, raised the issue at an all-party meeting convened earlier in the day by the Chief Electoral Officer but he did not produce any proof to justify the AIADMK's charge.

At the meeting, leaders of parties demanded easy access to voters to the electoral rolls, rectification of mistakes and severe punishment to those who were responsible for the mass deletion of the names of voters in the May 10 Lok Sabha poll. While the AIADMK demanded involvement of unemployed youth in a summary revision of rolls, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam opposed the plea but wanted a door-to-door verification done.

Probe under way

P.J. Thomas, who has been appointed by the commission to inquire into the allegations by political parties here of mass deletion and inclusion of voters, said the probe was half way through and he would submit his report, along with suggestions for improving the accuracy of the rolls, on August 7. About 50,000 complaints were received from all over the State and all of them were being verified, he said.

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