Kejriwal questions integrity of ECI, wants EVMs to be released in public

AAP raises doubts over who is voting in the elections: the people or the electronic voting machine  
Hardnews Bureau Delhi

Stirring a fresh storm on the validity of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) used in the Uttar Pradesh elections, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) to release the EVMs used in UP in public domain so that they can be scrutinised. The national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) told the ECI that the party has experts who can analyse the machine under the supervision of the Commission and on camera, if the Commission provides them EVMs for just 72 hours. 

“Election Commission is trying to bury the issue and should come clean on it by scrutinising the problems, rather than giving political statements,” said Kejriwal. The offensive mounted by the CM came after the Election Commission advised the AAP on Sunday to introspect about its unsatisfactory performance in the Punjab and Goa elections, instead of blaming the EVMs for their loss in the two states. In a letter addressed to the AAP, the Commission had said, “It is for your party to introspect as to why your party could not perform as per your expectations and it is unfair on the part of your party to attribute unsatisfactory poll performance of your party to the alleged tamperability of EVMs. The Commission is fully satisfied with the tamper-proof functioning of the ECI-EVMs.”

"Technically, EVMs can't be used or shifted 45 days from poll results. So what was the Election Commission's compulsion?

It is worth noting that despite repeated clarifications from the ECI which said that the EVMs are tamper-proof, the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts coming out of the machine during the trial run in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh demonstrated something else: the VVPAT receipts indicated that votes were being cast for the BJP even when the officials pressed buttons for the Samajwadi Party and Congress party’s poll symbols.  

Reportedly, the EVM machines being tested at the polling booth were also used during the state election in UP’s Kanpur. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia raised questions over the intention of the Election Commission in shifting the EVMs from UP to Madhya Pradesh before the expiry of the 45-day period during which the machines are not supposed to be used again. "Technically, EVMs can't be used or shifted 45 days from poll results. So what was the Election Commission's compulsion?" Sisodia asked.

Kejriwal has been asking the Election Commission to conduct the MCD polls scheduled in Delhi on ballot papers. Repeating his demand on Monday, he said, “The upcoming polls should be postponed if time is required to conduct the elections on the ballot instead of the EVMs.”

The AAP also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of tweaking the software of the EVMs.  The party leaders alleged that earlier, one could see if their vote went to another party when the lights on the machine flickered, whereas now the software has been manipulated in such a manner that the light does not glow even if the vote goes to a different party than the one the voter chose.

Expressing concern over people’s faith in the electoral process, Kejriwal said that all elections are under threat and democracy is in danger when one party can decide the fate of the nation by strategically choosing the winner even before the elections are contested. “It is not the people who are voting, it is the machine that is voting,” said Kejriwal.