As Opposition claims BJP would have lost elections without EVMs, Election Commission to check for EVM rigging in Gujarat

By Devika Bedi

BJP have been repeatedly accused of manipulating EVMs

After the opposition in Uttar Pradesh accused the BJP of manipulating the EVM machines (Electronic Voting Machines) to have a landslide victory in the recent civic polls, the Election Commision has announced that it would conduct random vote counts on EVM and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) on Sunday to weed out any scope of EVM rigging.

What the opposition has to say

Bahujan Party Chief Mayawati predicts “with full confidence” that BJP will be defeated if ballot papers were used in the 2019 Lok Sabha general elections, accusing the BJP of EVM rigging. Further, she stated that the opposition party would have won more mayoral seats if ballot papers had been used. Similarly, Samajwadi Party senior leader Rajendra Chaudhary has alleged that the BJP is indulging in undemocratic measures to win 14 mayoral seats in UP. “The BJP claimed that it had won the civic polls when actually it had lost it,” Chaudhary said. According to him, the BJP had lost in 470 out of 654 Nagar Palika, Nagar Panchayat and mayoral seats.

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav tweeted: “BJP has only won 15 percent seats in ballot paper areas and 46 percent in EVM areas.” Congress representative Deepak Singh stated the same. Furthermore, the BSP chief and has stressed on the use of ballot papers instead of EVMs to circumvent the issue of EVM rigging altogether.

The BJP, however, has ignored the allegations and has termed them “baseless”. “Misusing the official government machinery is a part of the SP, BSP and Congress culture. The voters have given a befitting reply to the baseless allegations. The three parties are indulging in this propaganda to hide their disappointment following the electoral losses,” said BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey.

Enter the Election Commision

The process will be conducted in Gujarat’s 182 assembly constituencies. “To maintain the faith of the people in the EVM/VVPAT system, we have decided to count all the VVPAT vote slips and match them with the (corresponding) EVM control unit vote data at one polling station in each constituency,” said Achal Kumar Jyoti, the Chief Election Commissioner. Additionally, he stated that polling booths will be selected from random draws. This will be done in the presence of representatives of all political parties that are taking part in the Gujarat elections. The Chief Election Commissioner has reiterated that a separate election commision that is specialised for a state will be in charge of local body elections.

A different machine (M1 type) is used during local elections while the Central Election Commission uses M2 type voting machines and other advanced versions of EVMs. The CEC, along with other commissioners, is reported to have had a two-day discussion on the issue. The discussion was with all district level officers, police officers and state administrative officials.

The discussion centred around topics that reviewed the preparation for the upcoming elections. Representatives of all political parties were also present and their suggestions were taken. “Political parties demanded the removal of the clause penalising a voter if his/her complaint regarding the wrong recording of the vote in VVPAT turns out to be incorrect. The commission will decide this later,” Jyoti said. He went on to state that “One political party also demanded the installation of jammers outside booths and not allowing mobile phones. We will examine their suggestions and take a call accordingly.”