- Opposition parties had demanded that EVM votes be tallied with VVPATs
- Verification will be done after counting and not before, poll body said
- EVMs were tampered to favour BJP in assembly polls, opposition alleged
The Opposition demand to tally the VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) slips with the Electronic Voting Machines before votes are counted tomorrow has been turned down by the Election Commission. The verification of EVM votes with VVPAT slips from five random polling booths in each assembly segment - made mandatory by the Supreme Court -- will be done after the counting of votes and not before, the Commission said today.
Yesterday, a delegation comprising representatives of 22 opposition parties had asked the commission to conduct the VVPAT verification process before the counting of votes begin. In case of discrepancy, they demanded that 100 per cent votes from the assembly segment should be tallied.
The Commission had asked for time to consider the issue. After a meeting attended by all three Commissioners today, the demand was rejected.
The Election body has also said: "If there is any mismatch between the EVM votes and the candidates wise VVPAT slips, the VVPAT slip count will prevail (& not the EVM votes) as per rule 56D(4)(b) of the Conduct of Election Rules and the result sheet shall be amended and final results be announced accordingly".
The question of tallying VVPAT slips rose when the opposition parties contended after the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh that the voting machines were tampered to favour the BJP.
The Supreme Court, where the matter finally went, asked the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths per assembly segment in Lok Sabha polls.
It means for each Lok Sabha seat, slips from 30 VVPAT machines need to be tallied with the votes.
Though the Commission argued that matching of VVPAT slips would stretch the time taken during counting, the court said it would provide greater satisfaction to political parties and the voters.
After the order, Left leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted:
Integrity of EVMs by matching with sample VVPATs has to be done at the start of the counting. Doing so after the trends are declared makes it infructuous and is likely to lead to protests and a possible law and order situation from the affected candidates. https://t.co/Aj3zN2wFUT— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) May 22, 2019
Union minister Suresh Prabhu hit back n Twitter:
Denigrating #EVMs has become a norm for parties losing Elections @BJP4India never alleged #Vote fraud using #EVMs when it lost in polls. Bleating over "tampered" #EVMs is nothing but intellectual bankruptcy. It will further erode credibility of those making unfounded allegations— Chowkidar Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) May 22, 2019
The Commission has also brushed off the opposition concerns about the movement of EVMs in state like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. As clips surfaced showing the movement of unattended EVMs, the Commission said they are unused machines that are being transported.
According to commission rules, the movement of used and unused EVMs should be simultaneous and the machines cannot be unattended.
The BJP has scoffed at the opposition concerns about EVM tampering, saying they should accept defeat "with good grace".
Exit polls have predicted that the NDA would return to power with a comfortable majority. The counting of votes will begin at 8 am on Thursday.