As Madhya Pradesh began voting on Wednesday morning, multiple instances of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines malfunctioning were reported from across the state.
At a polling center in Bhind in northern Madhya Pradesh, an argument broke out as the EVM stopped working. Narendra Sharma, local poll official said, "After the mock poll, when we started the machine, it showed invalid - we have informed the returning officer and the collector."
Another breakdown was reported from a booth in Jhabua to the west, where a local standing in the queue said "It is not working for the past one hour... we have been in the queue since then."
In the end, around 1000 machines had to be replaced across the state after polling started, which included 211 ballot units, 214 control units and 812 VVPAT machines.
Congress leader Jyotriditya Scindia dashed off a letter to the Election Commission for extending the polling hours. "There have been many complaints of EVMs malfunctioning, have written to Election Commission. Have requested that voting time in these polling booths should be extended to compensate for the delay," he said.
The Election Commission responded saying local poll officers will take a call. Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said, "There are provisions for extending time. Local officials are competent enough to take decisions."
State Congress chief Kamal Nath said, "We are not saying they are rigged, but if the machine is not working, it is not working."
During voting, less than 2.5 per cent VVPAT and less the 2 per cent EVMs were replaced, the sources in Election Commission said. Re-polling can be ordered only if voting is stopped for more than two hours and after the report from the observer and the returning officer.
Madhya Pradesh saw a voter turnout of 75 per cent today, which is higher than the 2013 figure of 72.7 per cent. The results will be declared on December 11.
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