Congress Complains of ‘faulty EVM’ as Video of VVPAT generating wrong receipt in trial goes viral, EC orders probe

Chanchal Chauhan
The report penned by Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai said that the proposed system will save government's money and resources in a big way. The authors also wrote that constitutional amendments will be required for the implementation of the proposed system of elections.

New Delhi, April 1: Following the media demonstration of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), which printed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slips when two separate buttons were pressed, leaders from the Congress party demanded a through investigation into the matter alleging foul play in the machines. The Congress leaders alleged that the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system generated a slip with the BJP’s lotus symbol when CEO Saleena Singh, who was checking the arrangements, had pressed the button for the Samajwadi Party candidate.

The Congress party leaders have also said that they would approach the Election Commission for an inquiry. The Congress also demanded that by-elections to Ater and Bandhavgarh should be held via ballot paper and not EVMs.

The demand to do away with Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) intensified on Saturday after a video demonstrating faults in the machines went viral ahead of an assembly by-election in Madhya Pradesh. However, Singh claimed that the machines were not calibrated. “When you have a fully calibrated machine, this cannot happen like this. But they (journalists) misrepresented the facts without trying to understand the whole issue,” said Saleena Singh. In the video, Singh was also heard saying that if the reporters circulate this, they will have to face police detention.

Following the video, the poll panel has ordered an inquiry into the matter. “We have sought a detailed report from district election officer and would come up with a response in the evening,” an EC spokesperson said. (Also Read: EVMs can be tampered with: here’s how)

A video of Singh checking the EVMs before the by-election in Madhya Pradesh went viral on social media in which Singh could be seen surprised after she pressed two different buttons on the EVM but the VVPAT attached to the machine generated wrong receipts. She was also seen laughing on the matter and warning the journalists that they would face police detention if they publish the report. However, the video hasn’t been verified yet.

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As per the reporters present at the spot, when CEO Saleena Singh pushed the button number 4 on the EVM, which has been given to the Samajwadi Party (SP), the VVPAT machine generated a print out of a slip bearing the BJPs lotus symbol and name of a candidate Satyadev Pachouri. The machine generated Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)’s symbol elephant when button numbers two and three were pushed; the BSP isn’t fighting these polls.

Singh has accused “some people” of creating an illusion that only BJP slips are being generated by the VVPAT. Saleena Singh said, “In a dummy voting process or a demo anything can come first. When the first button was pressed, ‘lotus’ came. When the next button was pressed hand symbol came. That should have clarified the matter.”

The trial of the EVM was going on before the by-election for the Ater assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh scheduled for April 9. The trail was conducted as this is the first time the Election Commission is using VVPAT in the state. VVPAT is a machine attached to the EVMs that generates a slip with the party symbol for which the voter has voted for. The slip is then dropped in a box.

Earlier, the Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal had also alleged foul play in the EVMs after a dismal show in Punjab and Goa Assembly Elections 2017. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) submitted a letter to the Election Commission of India and complained about the alleged Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) tampering in Punjab Assembly Elections 2017. He also demanded that the voting for MCD Elections 2017 should be through ballot papers.

As per the reports, the party demanded that slips generated by Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines be matched with papers generated by the EVMs to verify the Punjab assembly election results.

AAP also demanded scrap of the Electronic Voting Machines after Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati alleged foul play in the functioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) after her party’s dismal show in Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017. Many other leaders including Harish Rawat too echoed her views on the matter.