The Election Commission (EC) will call a meeting of all political parties to assure them that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) cannot be tampered with and are completely secured, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi announced at a press conference on Saturday, April 29.
Zaidi said that the poll panel wishes to use voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) in all the upcoming elections to ensure more transparency and also to boost public confidence in the election process. He added that India would "perhaps" be the first country to see 100 percent usage of VVPAT machines at all polling booths.
"We will soon hold an all-party meeting in which they will be told how our EVMs are can't be tampered with and are secured as per our administrative and technical safeguard system," Zaidi said while responding to questions about political parties alleging that EVMs used in the recently concluded assembly elections and bypolls were tampered with.
Zaidi also said that the EC had already placed an order for the supply of VVPAT machines to be used in the upcoming elections. "For VVPAT, we have got all the funds. We have placed an order for the supply of 15 lakh VVPAT with two PSUs Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronic Corporation of India (ECI)," Zaidi told reporters in Delhi
He added that around 15 lakh VVPAT machines are expected to be ready for use by September 2018. Zaidi also said that a campaign would be launched to create awareness about the advantages of using VVPAT machines in polls. VVPAT generates a receipt which allows voters to verify whether or not their vote went in favour of the candidate they voted for by pressing the button against his name on the EVM.
The poll panel had, earlier this month, also decided to throw an open challenge to all political parties, scientists and technologists who say that the EVMs can be tampered with. The challenge, through which the EC wants to prove that EVMs cannot be tampered with, is likely to be taken up in the first week of May.
The challenge, which consists of four levels, will be held at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi for 10 days. This comes after the Opposition parties, particularly the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), consistently attacked the poll panel saying that EVMs must be replaced with ballot papers since the machines were being manipulated resulting in false results.
Congress and AAP-led delegations had recently met senior EC officials and expressed their disapproval of the use of EVMs during elections. They asked the poll panel to return to the system of ballot-paper voting.