Karnataka Minister for Information Technology Priyank Kharge today called for testing of Electronic Voting Machines by R&D institutes and startups present in this IT capital. “If they give machines to us, there are several startups and corporates here,” he said, a day after chief minister Siddaramaiah demanded that ballot papers be used during the assembly polls in the state, due early next year. Expressing doubts about BJP’s performance in Gujarat despite anti-incumbency and strong undercurrents against it, Siddaramaiah had said yesterday, “the result is lending credence to that doubt about EVM.” The minister referred to Bengaluru’s position globally in research and development, and presence of research institutes belonging to more than 400 fortune 500 companies in the state. “I’m not saying no to EVMs. Let’s together clear all doubts or suspicion regarding EVMs with honesty.” “We are silicon valley and innovation capital of India, who will do it, if we don’t,” he told reporters at Kalburgi in north Karnataka. Apprehension about possible EVM tampering through bluetooth technology was raised by opposition Congress during the assembly elections in Gujarat, which the
Election Commission had termed “baseless”. “What I’m saying is technically let’s open the machine and if there any faults or errors, lets get them rectified,” Kharge said. Similar doubts about the credibility of EVMs were raised during recently concluded civic polls in Uttar Pradesh and assembly elections earlier this year. The EC, which has repeatedly stated that EVMs were tamper proof, had used for the first time EVMs linked to Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail in Gujarat elections. There was a “100 per cent match” in the random vote count on EVMs and paper trail slips carried out by the EC in 182 Gujarat polling stations, a senior official said yesterday during the counting. The EC had carried out the exercise to ensure greater transparency in the counting process amid allegations that the EVMs could be tampered with to help BJP.