Wednesday, May 12, 2010

evm and malfunctions electronic voting machines

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Who says Indian EVMs are failsafe? (PART 2) EVMs ‘manipulated’ in Orissa

In April-May elections to India’s lower house of parliament last year,
Orissa went to polls on April 16 and 20.

Voting was delayed in a number of polling stations across the state due to
faulty EVMs raising suspicions among voters and rival political parties.
Supporters of the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that
the EVMs did not record votes in favour of their candidates and
irrespective of whichever candidate button they pressed, the votes were
being recorded in favour of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) candidate only.
Suspecting foul play, voters became so agitated that they clashed with
polling officials at some places.

A report published on the website Orissa Matters captures the situation.
Opposition parties including the Congress and the BJP and many common
voters in Orissa felt that the electronic voting machines have been
tampered with in the state.

“Second and final phase of voting in Orissa is witnessing voters’ wrath
against polling officers in most of the booths as till now, i.e. noon, the
Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are not working. In the first phase of
election on April 16, EVM problems had affected voting in many booths.
Voters had taken that to be technical defects. Many voters had gone back
from the booths and the day’s last information from the Chief Election
Officer had put the polling percentage at 52.6%. But on April 17, the
percentage was finally placed at 65.9%. This enhancement was attributed to
casting of votes beyond the voting time as that was allowed to compensate
time lost due to defect in EVMs. This high rise in voting numbers was
looked at askance in certain quarters, even though general public had
accepted it as normal.

…….many people suspect that the EVMs are tampered with. The EVMs… carry
certificate of faultlessness on the basis of meticulous testing. They
should not have shown such defects in normal condition; but they may
develop defect only if tampered with, suggest techno-academics that we

No wonder, voters in a Cuttack booth have manhandled the polling staff
suspecting tampering of the EVMs. Apolitical intellectuals feel that there
should be credible inquiry over non-functioning of the EVMs in such massive

 Congress party’s Allegations

 For a change, in Orissa, it was the turn of the Congress party to make
serious allegations against the manipulation of EVMs by the ruling Biju
Janata Dal (BJD).

 After his party’s disastrous performance in the state of Orissa in 2009
polls – in both the assembly and parliament elections held simultaneously
in the state –   Ghulam Nabi Azad, present Union Health minister and
Congress party’s general secretary in charge of Orissa in a press
conference on June 18, 2009 alleged, “EVMs were manipulated during the poll
which resulted in the defeat of many Congress candidates.” (IANS)

 The Congress party had its own reasons to be suspicious. It performed
disastrously in Orissa polls. A nationally resurgent Congress party had
suffered a loss of eight percentage points in votes in Orissa and
registered the lowest ever vote share of 32.8 per cent in Lok Sabha polls.

Congress files Election petition

The Congress party leaders were so enraged with the election outcome that
some of its state leaders filed an election petition in the Orissa High
Court making the startling allegations:

 “In express violation…, the agency in charge of conducting the state
election for reasons best known to them procured 80,000 EVMs through Idcol
Software Limited, which is a Government of Orissa undertaking and a group
of hand picked, tainted officers were kept in its controlling and managing
positions at the behest of Sri Pyarimohan Mohapatra during the relevant
period on order to complete the process for EVM procurement. The
trustworthiness of these EVMs were never tested nor demonstrated.”

The Congress party’s state leaders had hinted that the state-government
owned EVMs were used to manipulate polls in Orissa. Not just that, the
petition further alleged that the EVMs allotted to several polling stations
were unauthorisedly changed and new EVMs were used in their place. The
petition had listed details of all polling stations where such unannounced
changes were made.

The EVM problems and allegations of EVM tampering in Orissa are indeed
serious. There has not been any enquiry of any kind by the Election
Commission of India. For the Election Commission of India, which has
boundless faith in EVMs, such colossal failures and widespread complaints
don’t seem to matter at all.

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