Advani has doubts about EVM, wants ballot papers back

BJP leader L.K. Advani has demanded the reintroduction of ballot papers in elections, beginning with the Maharashtra Assembly elections in October, and three other states later this year.

"We should revert to ballot papers unless the Election Commission is able to ensure that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are foolproof and every possibility of their malfunctioning is taken care of," Advani told The Sunday Express here on Saturday.

While the Election Commission, during the recent general elections, once toyed with the idea of using ballot papers instead of EVMs (essentially due to large number of independent candidates in states like Tamil Nadu), this is the first time that a mainstream political party has raised questions over the reliability of EVMs.

Citing the instances of Germany (which has banned electronic voting altogether) and the US (which has elaborate guidelines for voting through EVMs), Advani stressed that "no one was raising any questions like rigging or malpractices in the elections", but larger questions about the "possibility of EVMs' malfunctioning...must be addressed".

Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, however, said the "poll panel was absolutely satisfied that EVMs couldn't be manipulated" and that a technical committee headed by former IIT-Madras director, P.V. Indiresan, appointed by a parliamentary sub-committee, was in place, "to ensure this".

After the recent elections, some state units of the BJP had levelled allegations of "malpractices through EVMs". The issue also figured in a meeting of the BJP's newly-elected MPs last month.

The debate over the possibility of EVMs' malfunctioning was reignited with former Delhi chief secretary Omesh Saigal claiming that "rigging of EVMs was very much possible" and that a programme written by a junior programmer showed that the final results could vary "if the pre-programmed code number was keyed in into the machine".

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