It appears that the Election Commission is going to be cornered again due to EVM machines even after fully implementing VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) system in all constituencies of Gujrat assembly poll.
It is well known fact that several political parties and NGOs have alleged that the EVM machines are a scam and they can be easily tampered. It is only after a case was filed against the EVM machines, Supreme Court has directed to implement VVPATs as an ‘assurance to the voters that their vote is rightly casted and counted’. Later, Waman Meshram, the president of BAMCEF has approached the apex court alleging ECI is not implementing VVPATs in its ‘true sense’, thus initiated a contempt of court. The contempt matter was disposed off on 24-April directing he ECI to implement VVPAT in all constituencies across India.
However, ECI still doesn’t appear to be prepared to implement VVPAT system in its true spirit though it is claiming that VVPATs are used in all constituencies of Gujrat assembly poll. It may also be noted that some 3500 VVPATs were found defective in Gujrat last month.
So, why are the VVPATs useless despite 100% implementation?
- VVPAT slips are not counted at all – only the EVM machines are counted.
- In case of a conflict, right to Recount the votes polled is a very basic and fundamental right of the Voters and Candidates. But the ECI has framed following rules which makes it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to ask for a recounting.
The above rules are allegedly against the very spirit of Elections and purpose of implementing VVPATs for the following reasons
- Though the rule 11 says a candidate or his/her agents can ask for a recount in entire constituency, the rule 11(a) conflicts with itself making the recount limited to one polling station.
- A candidate who got less votes than the margin of winning candidate in just one SINGLE polling booth or entire constituency cannot demand for recounting as the recount cannot effect his fate in election.
- Average votes in one polling station will be less than 1,500 and average margin of winning MLAs (in most cases) are more than 4,000 while average margin for an MP candidate is more than 50 thousand. How can any candidate get more votes than margin in such scenario if only one polling booth is allowed to count slips?
- Even in case any candidate fits the criteria of Rule 11-a,b &c, only he/she is allowed to demand recounting not the other candidates. Which means, based on the same rule, one candidate is allowed for recounting & the other is denied. Is it not against the Equality before Law?
- These rules say that the purpose of ‘RECOUNTING’ is only to change the fate of winning and losing candidates but not to check whether the votes polled are rightly counted / not tampered with.
Having read all the rules and its effects, one question arises! ‘If EVMs are so sacred, tamper proof and best in the world, why is ECI reluctant to count the paper slips?’
A similar question was asked by Meshram soon after the VVPATs were used in Maharashtra assembly poll to which ECI, according to Meshram has replied stating that they ‘feel rules adequate’, ‘to speed up the votes counting’ and to minimise the misuse of recounting. Talking to Critic Brain about his allegations, Meshram said “ECI’s duty is to conduct free, fair and transparent elections but not fast and furious defeating the very essence of democracy’.
It is learned that a case was also filed against the above rules and demanding to count all the VVPATs at Delhi high court (filed by Bahujan Mukti Party) and the Supreme Court (Manubhai Chawda of Gujrat) which is due its hearing on 20th November 2017.