The Election Commission of India (ECI) will soon call a meeting of all political parties to assure them that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) were tampering-proof and secured, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said today. He also said that the commission intends to use Voter- Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in all coming elections to bring in more transparency and boosting the confidence of people in the electoral process. “We will soon hold an all party meeting in which they will be told how our EVMs are non-tamperable and secured as per our administrative and technical safeguard system,” the CEC told reporters here.
He was responding to questions about allegations levelled by various political parties against EVMs. Recently sixteen opposition parties had urged the ECI to revert to ballot system, claiming the faith of the people in EVMs had been “eroded”. Zaidi also said that the ECI is planning to “hold a challenge” for which time frame is being worked out. The electoral body is planning to throw an open challenge, asking anyone to try hacking its EVMs to dispel doubts of any misuse, it is learnt.
The CEC also said that the ECI had placed an order for the supply of VVPAT machines for use in elections. “For VVPAT, we have got all the funds. We have placed an order for the supply of 15 lakh VVPAT with two PSUs Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronic Corporation of India (ECI),” informed Zaidi. He said it is expected that by September 2018, around 15 lakh VVPAT machines will be ready.
The Commission’s objective is to use VVPATs in all the coming elections, he said. India will “perhaps” be the first country where VVPAT will be used 100 per cent at all the poling stations. It will boost voters’ confidence and will bring more transparency in the election process, he added. Zaidi said that an awareness campaign will be launched to create awareness about the benefits of VVPAT.
VVPAT generates a receipt allowing voters to verify that the the vote went in favour of the candidate against whose name the button was pressed on the EVM. After the Assembly elections earlier this year in five states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur, many political parties raised their voice against the use of EVMs. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was vociferous against alleging probable misuse of EVMs while BSP leader Mayawati, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had also raised question about the polling machines.