From the Viewsroom

Are EVMs still under suspicion?

Poornima Joshi | Updated on February 19, 2020

AAP win, in fact, is the right moment for Opposition to raise EVM issue

If Opposition parties, especially the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), are at all serious about their campaign against the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), now is the most opportune time for a constructive debate about whether India should bring back the ballot papers. The ruling BJP can hardly question the credibility of such a campaign if it is initiated by a party which has just won handsomely in the Delhi Assembly polls.

The argument that this issue only surfaces when the Opposition seeks an excuse for electoral defeat seems valid. Such campaigns peaked just after five Assembly elections and the civic elections in Delhi in 2017 — which largely went the BJP’s way — or just before and after the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. It is even more imperative for the AAP to present a credible case because, unlike other parties which have thus far restricted to demanding that the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) be tallied with EVM counts, it has persisted with the stance that EVMs can be hacked.

This is not to say that the debate about accuracy, security and reliability of EVMs is restricted to India alone. EVM use has been banned in the Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Italy and Germany, while England has persisted with the use of ballot papers. The Election Commission, on its part, has presented a comparative analysis of the Indian EVMs with the discontinued voting machines in the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland to reject the charge that they can be tampered with. The significant criterion for EVM use applied by the German Constitutional Court while declaring the machines “unconstitutional” is that all the “essential steps of voting and of the ascertainment of the result can be examined reliably and without any specialist knowledge of the subject”. The AAP and other political parties have left lingering doubts about the most fundamental function in the country’s democratic process. They should also initiate the process to ascertain the answers.

The writer is Associate Editor with BusinessLine

Published on February 19, 2020

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