Election Commission to convene all-party meet today, EVM issue, electoral reforms on agenda
The Election Commission today will convene an all-party meeting over the issue of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and other electoral reforms in New Delhi today.
In its communication to the presidents of all the seven national and 48 state political parties, the Commission sent a status paper on EVMs and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail, VVPAT.
The poll panel will try to assure parties that the EVMs cannot be hacked in any manner.
Last month, sixteen opposition parties had urged the Election Commission to revert to the paper ballot system saying that the alleged tampering has created trust deficit in the credibility of the EVMs.
However, the poll body has been maintaining that EVMs are tamper-proof and cannot be manipulated.
The poll panel intends to use Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units attached with EVMs in the coming elections for greater transparency and to keep voters' confidence in the electoral process.
The Union Cabinet had given its nod to sanctioned funds of nearly 3200 crore rupees to procure more than 16 lakh VVPATs as sought by the EC.
Besides EVMs, the meeting is expected to deliberate on making bribery in elections a cognisable offence, disqualification on framing of charges for the offences of bribery in elections and suggestions in VVPAT recount Rules.
On Tuesday, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), during a special session of the Delhi assembly, conducted a live demonstration on how EVMs can be tampered with.
Reacting to the demonstration, the poll panel said the machine used to conduct live demonstration was a 'look-alike'' which was made to function in a 'tampered' manner.
"It is common sense that gadgets other than ECI EVMs can be programmed to perform in a pre-determined way, but it simply cannot be implied that ECI EVMs will behave in the same manner because the ECI EVMs are technically secured and function under an elaborate Administrative and Security Protocol," an official release said.
"Such so-called demonstration on extraneous and duplicate gadgets which are not owned by the ECI cannot be exploited to influence our intelligent citizens and electorate to assail or vilify the EVMs used by the Commission in its electoral process," it added.
Conducting a mock poll on an EVM machine, AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj demonstrated how despite giving two votes each to various parties; the final count showed that votes of some parties had been transferred to one party.
A day before the all-party meeting, the AAP on Thursday forwarded a new demand, calling for an all-party committee to be formed under the monitoring of the EC to ascertain whether EVMS were hacked in the recently held elections or not.