New Delhi: Amid uproar over tampering of electronic voting machines (EVM) in the country, the "totaliser" that is expected to mask voting patterns at counting stations, thus adding a layer of security to the process, has no supporters. When the Supreme Court today asked what's stopping the Centre from amending the law so that the totaliser can be used in counting of votes by EVMs, the bench was told that "everyone opposed it" during an all-party meeting recently.
The government also said that they are apprehensive about the possible data breach if the totaliser is implemented.
The totaliser is a mechanism in the voting machines to hide booth-wise voting patterns. A totaliser allows the votes cast in about 14 polling booths to be counted together by connecting all EVMs. At present, the votes are tallied booth by booth and political parties know who has got the majority of votes.
While pushing for its implementation, the petitioners said that political parties after ascertaining votes polled in each booth often intimidate the voters.
The top court will take up the case after two weeks and has asked the Election Commission (EC) to file its affidavit on the issue.
The EC has been planning to introduce the mechanism for over a decade now. The government, however, argues it will affect their polling booth management strategies.
Before the EVMs were introduced in the 1980s, ballot papers were jumbled up to ensure secrecy. But with EVMs, it is easy to tell how people voted in a polling station, which helps parties to identify where they got more votes and where they were rejected.
The EC first proposed the use of totaliser in 2008. In 2015, the Law Commission in a report also supported the EC's demand stating that "Using a totaliser would increase the secrecy of votes during counting, thus preventing the disclosure of voting patterns and countering fears of intimidation and victimisation".
However, almost all political parties continue to have reservations about the totaliser.