The Election Commission is not going to be “intimidated, coerced or pressurised into going back to ballot paper days,” Sunil Arora, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) said on Thursday. “The position has been consistently maintained by successive Commissions and the same will be maintained in the future. In ballot paper era, there used to be innumerable complaints about impersonation and booth-capturing by anti-social elements and musclemen, . besides the inordinate delays in declaring results, which sometimes tookthree-four days,” said Arora while delivering the keynote address at an international conference on ‘Making our Elections Inclusive and Accessible’ hosted by the Commission.

A few days ago while addressing an Opposition rally in Kolkata, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah called the EVM the “ chor machine” and demanded that the ballot paper system be brought back for the sake of transparency.

Similarly, in March last year, the Congress party in its political resolution, moved at its two-day plenary session, had spoken about the “apprehensions among political parties and the people over the misuse of EVMs to manipulate the outcome contrary to popular verdict.”

The CEC affirmed that the Commission is open to feedback from all stakeholders particularly the political parties.

Incidents of violation

Arora mentioned that in the recent Assembly elections in the five States, out of 176,000 polling booths where EVMs were used, six incidents of violation of Standard Operating Procedure were reported, that too in reserved EVMs that were not used in the actual elections.

Zero tolerance

“Although the ratio is negligible, but even in these cases stringent disciplinary action was taken and the Election Commission of India has and always will have zero tolerance to any kind of errors in the election process,” he reiterated.