EC Acted in Casual Manner in Moving EVMs to Strong Room: Congress

The Congress in Goa Wednesday said it was "shocked and surprised" at the "casual and negligent manner" in which the Election Commission moved the EVMs to the strong room after the Lok Sabha polls and three Assembly bypolls in the state got over on Tuesday.

The party said the EC should take all the necessary measures to secure the EVMs with proper safety protocol.

In response, the poll watchdog, however, said it took all the necessary precautions in transportation of EVMs and other poll material.

Polling for two Lok Sabha and three State Assembly segments in Goa was held on Tuesday.

In a release issued late Wednesday night, Sunil Kawathankar, chief spokesman of Goa Congress, said, "We are shocked and surprised at the casual and negligent manner in which the Election Commission has treated the process of moving the EVMs to the strong room, specially in North Goa, where some EVMs reached the strong room today evening."

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He said the EVMs remained at some polling stations overnight and even at the strong room the EVMs were kept casually with no proper security arrangements and sanitation.

"As the security and safety of EVMs are under question mark, this attitude shown by the Election Commission has further raised doubts in the minds of the public. It is very necessary that the EVMs should be stored with proper security for the faith of public in the election mechanism," he said.

"We therefore strongly demand that the Election Commission should take all necessary measures to secure the EVMs with proper safety protocol," the Congress leader added.

The office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in a statement, however, claimed that all the necessary formalities were followed.

"After polling completed at the polling stations, EVMs, VVPATs and other polled materials were properly packed and sealed in the covers provided for this purpose. All these EVMs and other materials were transported from polling station to receiving centres at taluka headquarters with proper police security cover. Movement of EVMs was also tracked through GPS," the statement said.

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"At taluka headquarter, these EVMs were kept AC-wise (assembly constituency-wise) in vehicles and again they were transported to district strong room at Borda with proper police security. Movement of EVMs was also tracked through GPS," the CEO has said.

"From closing of poll till its transportation to taluka headquarters took 3-4 hours as many polling stations are located in far flung areas. From taluka headquarter, these EVMs were brought to district strong room only after midnight. District strong room has three-tier security arrangement, including a company of Central Armed Police Force. Strong room has been put on continuous CCTV surveillance," it adds.

At the strong room, these EVMs were again arranged PS-wise (police stations-wise) and AC-wise before they were stored in racks designed for them as per ECI specifications, it said.

"EVMs used at all 810 polling stations of South Goa constituency were arranged in the manner as explained above and were stored in strong room. This whole process takes several hours. However, for this a foolproof police security is arranged and the entire process is videographed," the CEO said.

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