In it fresh bid to alley opposition’s doubts and concerns over the EVM, the Election Commission of India is today holding a press conference to announce the dates of its ‘EVM Hacking Challenge’ and to offer a live demonstration of its Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.
The event will see the Election Commission exhibiting a four-minute short film on the features of its EVMs. Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi will deliver a statement, which will be followed by a round of questions and answers.
Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) has off late been under attack from the Opposition parties. The Opposition claims that EVMs are vulnerable to hacking and tampering. The fresh spurt of attack on the vulnerability of EVM emerged after the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, where the Bharatiya Janata Party got a resounding victory, demolishing all pre- and post-poll projections and its rivals.
This is not the first time that EVM’s sanctity is being questioned. There were instances when other Opposition parties, including the ruling BJP, have levelled allegation against the ruling parties of tempering with EVMs. BJP has been raising this issue after they lost 2009 election. In fact one of the BJP spokespersons GVL Narsimha Rao has written a book on the topic: Democracy At Risk! Can We Trust Our Electronic Voting Machines? Ramvilas Paswan, who is part of the current NDA government, too has raised the issue when his alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav failed to dethrone Nitish Kumar in Bihar Assembly Elections in 2010.
Now the roles of parties have been reversed. BJP is vehemently supporting the argument that EVMs cannot be tampered with and other opposition parties including the Congress are questioning the validity of the argument. The current debate got impetus when BSP Chief Mayawati, after badly loosing UP elections came out publically blaming EVM for her defeat. After that the AAP held a demonstration of hacking EVM on a proto-type machine. The Election Commission has already denied the allegation and said its machines cannot be tampered with. The commission has had a few round of discussion with political parties in this regard.
However, during a recent all-party meeting called on the EVM issue, the Election Commission had also said that all future elections in India will make use of VVPAT machines. VVPAT machines allow voters to verify for whom they have cast their ballots.
The machine prints out a paper slip that displays information about which party/candidate a vote was for. Voters can view the slip but cannot take it home – the paper printout is collected in a box attached to the VVPAT machines. At the all-party meet, the EC also said during elections, it would count a certain percentage VVPAT print outs to tally the votes cast.