EVM tampering row: Election Commission to hold live demo of voting machines, VVPATs tomorrow

Last Updated: Fri, May 19, 2017 12:25 hrs
Polling delayed in Mathura, Baghpat due to non-operational EVMs

New Delhi: Amid the ongoing debate over whether Electronic Voting Machines can be manipulated, the Election Commission of India will hold a live demonstration of the EVMs and the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail System on Saturday in Delhi.

There will also be a press conference on the 'EVM Challenge'.

Several opposition parties like the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress have levelled allegations of EVM tampering in the recently concluded state elections. The AAP also demonstrated, in a special Delhi Assembly session, how an EVM machine can be allegedly tampered using a special code that can be fed to it during the voting process. The EC has refuted those charges and is likely to throw the ‘open challenge’ to all political parties this month in which they can attempt at proving the tampering of the machines.

The EC has also said that VVPAT machines will be used in all upcoming elections so that voters can verify with the help of the paper slip whether the vote has indeed gone to the party that they voted for. The paper slips can also be used to resolve any dispute arising in an election. The decision was announced after a day-long all-party meeting. At the meeting, several parties raised the issue of tampering of the EVMs and some like the Trinamool Congress, RJD and BSP even suggested going back to paper ballots.

At the all-party meeting, parties like the RLD, CPI and NC also raised objections to the recent amendments to the Companies Act of 2013 which removed the cap of 7.5 per cent on corporate contribution to political parties.

In response to Arvind Kejriwal’s questioning of the independence of two election commissioners, CEC Nasim Zaidi said the EC stands equidistant from all the parties. “You should be convinced that EC has no favourites… we maintain equidistance from all parties and groups. It is our constitutional and moral duty to stand dead centre of the circle drawn around us by 56 political parties.”

What is EVM?

EVM or Electronic Voting Machines are used to cast vote without revealing your identity. It is used in Indian General and State Elections. It has replaced paper ballots in local, state and general (parliamentary) elections in India. EC has announced that all ensuing elections will be held with the Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) enabled EVM. EC has sanctioned Rs 3,174 crore for the purchase of 16,15,000 VVPATs. Here’s a look at the life cycle and the security features of the machine.

How does the machine work?

EVM has two parts, it consists of a ‘control unit’ and a ‘balloting unit’, connected by a 5-metre cable. The control unit is with the Election Commission-appointed polling officer; the balloting unit is in the voting compartment into which the voter enters to cast the vote in secret by pressing the button against the name and symbol of the candidate of her choice. The control unit is the EVM’s ‘brain’ — the balloting unit is turned on only after the polling officer presses the ‘Ballot’ button on it. The EVM runs on a 6 volt single alkaline battery fitted in the control unit, and can even be used in areas that have no electricity.

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