Opposition parties to take their demand of bringing back the ballot paper instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the upcoming elections and thereafter to the Election Commission today on Monday. 17 other like-minded opposition parties including the National Democratic Alliance ally Shiv Sena are coming together on one platform with a demand to switch back to the previous mode of voting ie; ‘Ballot’.
The demand will be headed by the Congress party with support of Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Janata Dal (Secular), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Communist Party of India (CPI), YSR Congress, Kerala Congress-Mani (KCM) and AIUDF. Only a few non-NDA parties are not joining the Congress in their demand to bring back the ballot. These include AIADMK, Telangana Rashtriya Samithi, and the Biju Janata Dal according to reports in Hindustan Times.
“We will raise the issue of ballot papers in the meeting for fair and impartial elections. We want to make it clear that we do not consider EVMs as tamper-proof. Secondly, we would point out that the election expenses of political parties must also be limited along with the candidates,” said an opposition leader while talking to IANS.
On the other hand, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat has clearly denied any chance of switching back to ballot papers. Makin a public statement, he said that the new EVMs have been designed with more stringent checks and tampering or any manipulation is nearly impossible. Another Election Commission official said that the EC office has asked the opposition to stop doubting the efficiency and safety of EVMs and VVPATs if the poll results differ from their expectations.
A meeting has been called by the poll panel with the national and regional political parties in order to discuss several electoral issues including electoral rolls, limiting political parties’ expenditure and timely submission of annual audited reports by parties among other things. The meeting is also aimed at discussing alternative modes of voting for domestic migrants and absentee voters.
This is not the first time when the voice against the drawbacks of EVM is raised. Earlier Aam Aadmi Party legislator Saurabh Bhardwaj had demonstrated how Electronic Voting Machine can tamper during the special session in Delhi assembly in May 2017. This was done to prove the party’s stance that there were manipulations in the Uttar Pradesh elections which led Bharatiya Janata Party to the huge victory.
So far complaints of EVM hacking has been registered in the High Courts of five states including, Madras High Court, Kerala High Court, Delhi High Court, Bombay High Court, Uttarakhand High Court as well as in the Supreme Court.