No room for casting shadow of doubt

Allegations and complaints about irregularities in the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have been on the rise ever since the machines were used on an experimental basis in the Kerala by-election in 2004.

In recent times, a self-proclaimed US-based Indian cyber expert made a sensational claim that the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was “rigged” through the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), which, he said, can be hacked, a charge rejected by the Election Commission of India.

Addressing a press conference in London via Skype, the self-styled cyber expert, said he fled India in 2014 because he felt threatened in the country after the killing of some of his team members. Although he appeared on screen through Skype, his face was masked.

He claimed a telecom giant in the private sector helped the BJP to get low frequency signals to hack the EVMs. But he did not provide any proof to support his claim.

The expert, who created a flutter, also alleged that other than the BJP, the SP, BSP, AAP and Congress too are involved in rigging of the EVMs.

There was no immediate reaction from any of these parties.Rejecting the outlandish and explosive claims, made in a cloak and dagger manner, the Election Commission of India(ECI) asserted that it firmly stood by the ‘fool proof nature’ of its machines even as it said it is examining as to what legal action “can and should” be taken in the matter.

The poll panel said whereas it is “wary of becoming a party to this motivated slugfest”, it firmly stands by the “empirical facts about fool-proof nature of ECI EVMs” used in elections in India.

The ECI reiterated that the EVMs used by it are manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), both state-owned, under “very strict” supervisory and security conditions.

It said there are rigorous standard operating procedures “meticulously observed” at all stages under the supervision of a committee of technical experts constituted in 2010. Several political parties in the past have alleged that the EVMs are prone to tampering and demanded reintroduction of the ballot papers.

Now all the political parties have agreed for improving the performance of the EVMs and their functioning. Even though political parties are afraid of EVMs, the general public is also interested to know whether the vote cast by them for a particular party reaches it. Causing panic among the voters is not good.

Representatives of the electorate should also be permitted to monitor the functioning of the machines on the lines of political parties who have their representatives as this will instil a sense of confidence among the voters. Exercising franchise is a democratic right and no room should be allowed to cast a shadow of doubt in the right.

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