EC to link all EVMs to VVPAT by 2019

As the commission moved to settle the storm over EVMs, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hurled a fresh accusation at the poll body for hiding the designs of the EVMs on which the machines were based

Hardnews Bureau Delhi

The Election Commission of India (ECI), which called an all-party meet to discuss the raging debate over the reliability of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), has said that it has received the required funds from the Central government and will link the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) technology to the machines by 2019.

As the commission moved to settle the storm over EVMs, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hurled a fresh accusation at the organisation for hiding the designs of the EVMs on which the machines were based. The party alleged that the Commission was in denial mode over the credibility of the voting machines.

The day-long meeting was called by the EC in the wake of the complaints filed by several political parties against the alleged manipulation of EVMs in the recent state and civic body elections. The issue has acquired added interest following the demonstration of EVM tampering on a dummy prototype of the actual machine on the floor of the Delhi Assembly by the AAP government on May 9.

Talking to media outside Constitution Club, AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj said, ''There was no clarity and the EC was in a denial mode over the credibility of the EVMs.'' Bhardwaj went on to add that the Commission has denied access to EVMs, from the states of Uttarakhand, Punjab and even Delhi, which could have been tampered with.

While Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that the Commission declined to conduct the rumoured hackathon, Bhardwaj added, ''The EC is nervous as they planted the word Hackathon in the media earlier and if it really happens, they would have a lot of things to hide, as the word hack is not limited to networks as said by the EC, and has a deeper meaning, which relates to the access of data (sic).”

While the commission has put to rest the rumours of Hackathon, it is likely to open its doors to techies from various parties to prove how the EVMs were allegedly tampered with in the recent elections.

Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh also joined the chorus by saying, “The EC must have total transparency on the issue of hacking/cheating in EVMs. They must give access to EVMs to techies to prove their point.”

The BJP, however, rubbished the allegations of the AAP, saying that EVMs have a ‘robust foolproof design.’ It is the same party which raised questions about the voting machines post-electoral loss in 2009 general elections. 

During the meeting, the Commission had also put up EVM machines on display and explained the whole process of voting, describing the step-by- step procedure that makes the whole system foolproof. iscussions were also held on the proposal of making bribery in elections a cognizable offence, disqualification on framing of charges for the offence of bribery in elections and suggestions were made on VVPAT recount rules.

On the issue of bribing of voters, the poll panel has proposed that the law to deal with these malpractices be made more stringent. The meeting on Friday was attended by 55 national and regional parties, of which 16 have urged the Commission to return to ballot papers.

(With Inputs from UNI)