The Congress on Monday said that the Election Commission (EC) is only an arbiter and not the controller of the democratic process, and it should introspect whether voting can be done on paper ballots rather than EVMs. “Democracy is based on public trust and if there is a feeling of widespread distrust in the electronic voting machines (EVMs), the Election Commission rather than taking a cussed stand on it, should introspect,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari. “How does it even bother the Election Commission that rather than EVMs, the voting is done on paper ballots!” he said.
Tewari maintained: “Ultimately, if the stakeholders, whether rightly or wrongly, are apprehensive that these machines have been gerrymandered with or are capable of being manipulated, there is no reason for the EC to become so defensive about it.” “The Election Commission is at best the arbiter of the democratic process, it is not the controller of the democratic process. If the stakeholders are feeling apprehensive, the EC should walk the extra mile,” he added.
“They should voluntarily say if the stakeholders do not have confidence in this paradigm, we’ll have the next election on paper ballots. What is the difficulty with that?” said Tewari. The Congress had earlier demanded that EVMs should be done away with after an EVM malfunctioned during an official demonstration ahead of by-elections from two assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh. The by-polls are scheduled to be held in Ater and Bandhavgarh assembly constituencies of the state next week.
During a demonstration to the media ahead of the by-polls, the voter-verified paper audit trail showed the BJP as the voted party irrespective of which button was pressed on the machine. The Congress had asked the EC to investigate the case alleging that the District Returning Officer (DRO) in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh, threatened media personnel not to publish the news.