Contrary to the claims made by the Election Commission that excessive heat and light was among the factors behind the large-scale malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPATs in Kairana Lok Sabha by-polls held in May this year, the government today said that hot weather was not the reason.
In a written reply to the question in Rajya Sabha whether as per the Election Commission, malfunctioning in EVM machines was due to hot weather, Minister of State for Law and Justice P.P. Chaudhary said: "No sir".
The Minister also ruled out any possibility of adopting any alternative method other than using electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections which are scheduled to be held in April-May 2019.
The MPs - Neeraj Shekhar, Javed Ali Khan and Ravi Prakash Verma - had asked if the Election Commission proposes to conduct next general election in any other manner as April-May are peak hot months.
The Minister said in the reply that such a possibility "does not arise".
Mr Chaudhary said that as per the ECI data, during the bye-elections to Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur Legislative Assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh held on May 28, out of a total of 2056 EVMs/VVPAT units used, seven EVMs and 388 VVPAT units malfunctioned.
An EC report had in June said that in Kairana, 355 VVPATs (20.82 per cent) were reported malfunctioning which needed to be changed. In Noorpur, 29 paper trail machines (8.25 per cent) had to be replaced due to malfunctioning.
Days after the by-polls, a preliminary report by the EC had attributed the reasons for such high number of VVPAT malfunctioning to "first time use by polling staff, extreme heat, exposure of machines to direct sun and mishandling during use".
The glitches had led to delays in polling and very slow polling. Hundreds of voters patiently waited to cast their votes in the blistering heat as the machines were replaced.
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