The editorial, “Retrograde demands’’ (August 29) is timely. A host of political parties in their meeting with the Election Commission (EC) have lobbied to go back to paper ballots instead of electronic voting machines (EVMs). The argument bandied against EVMs was they occasionally malfunctioned. So what? The EVMs are after all machines and can malfunction. In all the elections, we have seen adequate provisions being made to replace faulty machines.
The EVMs have over the years proved to be tamper proof. Some time ago, when their authenticity was being questioned, the EC had thrown a challenge to the political parties to demonstrate rigging of machines. On the appointed day, none of the parties turned up to prove that tampering could be done. Allegations of rigging or tampering of the EVMs come after the election results. Political parties rejected by the masses resort to such baseless allegations as a face-saving measure.
Booth capturing, rampant in the days of yore, has been pruned substantially with the introduction of the EVMs. As speed governors have been put up on the EVMs for allowing not more than five votes to be recorded in a minute, the modus operandi of erstwhile booth capturers and mass bogus voting too has been defeated. Therefore, the present demand seems more a vilification campaign against the EVMs. The introduction of the EVMs has also seen quick declaration of results. In the days of paper ballots, the storing and subsequent manual counting was a laborious task prone to mistakes and hijacking. We should not go back to this scenario.
The EC should strengthen the authenticity of the EVMs by introducing voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines. The audit trail that will be available with the VVPAT machines can easily dispel any complaints that might crop up about misfiring or tampering of machines. All future elections should be with VVPAT machines. We have nearly a year to go for the next general elections. The EC should requisition enough VVPAT machines so that they can be introduced across the country. Political parties with dubious credentials and track record will continue making noises to go back to the dark ages of paper ballot. The EC should stand firm and not allow regressive forces to have their way.
K V Premraj Mumbai
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