New Delhi: To deal with complaints about elections being vulnerable to rigged voting machines, the Election Commission has called a meeting on the 12th of this month with the leaders of all major parties. After that, a hackathon will be held in the last week of May that will give techies and others a shot at proving that electronic voting machines or EVMs can be manipulated. The Commission maintains they can't and that the hackathon will "dispel all doubts." Representatives of all political parties will be allowed to check the machines before would-be hackers get access to them at the Election Commission office in Delhi.
- Opposition parties allege vote machines rigged in favour of BJP
- Machines cannot be gamed, says Election Commission
- Commission confirms hackathon for last week of this month
It is the ruling BJP's continuing winning streak that has animated other parties into claiming that the results of recent elections in states like Uttar Pradesh are inauthentic.
It was Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who initiated the debate on voting machines by stating that his Aam Aadmi Party's defeat in Punjab was calibrated entirely by malpractices. He accused the Commission, an autonomous and immensely powerful body, of collaborating with the BJP. The Congress, which won Punjab, has in a case of self-help excluded the state from its list of problematic electoral results. After collating at least 10 other parties, the Congress complained to President Pranab Mukherjee about voting machines, and sought a return to ballot paper.
Under pressure from the Supreme Court, the centre last month cleared the release of 3,000 crores towards new voting machines that have the additional security feature of a printed receipt. VVPATs - verifiable voter paper audit trails - provide an instant confirmation of the vote cast through a slip of paper that is visible to the voter before it drops into a sealed box. The general election in 2019 will be run entirely with these VVPATs.
Mr Kejriwal has referred to his engineering credentials as an IIT graduate and pledged that 24 hours with an EVM will allow him to prove his case. However, his perceived fixation with voting machines has not been entirely beneficial. Last month, after his party lost crucial local elections in Delhi, its home base, leaders urged him not to wish away the blame on voting machines and to focus instead of re-engaging with the public.
However, in Uttarakhand, which, in March, chose the BJP to run it with a huge margin, the High Court has asked for voting machines from seven constituencies to be seized and inspected after losing Congress candidates alleged they had been gamed.