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EVM Controversy – VVPAT to be used as Delhi Votes tomorrow

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Indian Electronic Voting Machines

by NewsGram Staff

Indian Electronic Voting MachinesImage Credit: Wikipedia.

EVMs have become an integral part of Indian Electoral Process and as the Delhi Assembly Elections 2015 are soon to begin, NewsGram takes a last-minute look into the heart of the matter.

Less than 12 hours later, the voting process would begin in Delhi to bring the next government to power. All the contesting parties have campaigned aggressively to woo the voters. With poll surveys swinging both towards BJP and AAP, it remains to be seen who the majority of people would entrust with their votes.

As the days of the ballot system and bogus voting are long gone, the whole voting process would be conducted through EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines), also known as Indian Voting Machines. EVMs were first brought into the the elctoral process in 1999 in certain constituencies and implemented completely in 2004 elections. Over the years, the EVM has gone through some technical and security revisions and the current model is termed ‘Post-2006’ Evm.

A couple of days earlier, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal raised concerns about the probability of tampering of the EVMs. The Election Commission of India, however, reassured him that the machines are fool-proof and under appropriate security. Despite the Election Commission’s denial that EVMs can be hacked, various technical experts in the past have shared doubts about its reliability and infallibility.

In April 2010, a research team led by Hari Parasad, Ron Gonggrijp, and J. Alex Halderman from an independent forum, VeTa, demonstrated in two different ways how the EVM can be tampered with before or after the voting. Earlier to this, an international conference on tamperability of Indian EVMs was chaired by politician and economist Dr. Subramanian Swamy, concluding that the EVMs did have transparency issues. Dr. Swamy took the matter to the court in 2012 w.r.t (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 11879 of 2009). Convinced that the machine was not tamper-proof, the Delhi High Court advised the ECI to hold wider consultations in this matter.

While the developed countries across the globe have discarded the electronic system of voting for the sake of accuracy and preferred to use the ballot system instead, the Election Commission of India has brought itself in the eye of debates over its use of the EVMs time and again.

Owing to such controversies, in the general elections 2014, ECI introduced EVMs with voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system. This method is applied to simultaneously record the vote on paper which helps prevent any electronic malfunction or fraud as the voter can verify that their vote was cast correctly. This also means that a manual vote count can be done in case the recounting of votes is necessary. The system was implemented in 8 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies as a pilot project.

In Delhi Assembly Elections 2015, VVPAT system would be implemented in New Delhi and Cantonment constituencies. The question is why not cover most of the constituencies under this system if the ECI needs to establish more reliability in the electoral medium it advocates without hesitation. The outcome of the poll would have the last say.

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EVMs to display images along with names, symbols

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Agartala: To ensure greater transparency and avoid confusion in the minds of voters, the Election Commission has decided that electronic voting machines (EVMs) would henceforth display images of the contestants along with their names and party symbols.elections-polls-evm-voting

The new system would be operational for the first time during the June 27 by elections to six assembly constituencies in five states – Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu and Tripura.

“Following a Supreme Court direction, the Election Commission has decided to display photos of the candidates besides their names and party symbols on the EVMs,” Election Commission Secretary K.N. Bhar told IANS. The images would be displayed between the party symbol and the candidate’s name.

“The new mode would be applicable from now onwards in all future elections to parliament and the state assemblies,” he added.

The official said that the new system would help voters easily identify the candidates of their choice, avoid confusion on candidates with namesakes and long lists of contestants.

“The new method would be applied for the first time in India during the by-elections to six assembly seats in five states,” Bhar added.

The by-polls would be held on June 27 in two assembly constituencies in Tripura and one constituency each in the other four states.

The poll panel has issued a notification to all Chief Electoral Officers and stake holders concerned, making the new system compulsory.

According to the EC notification, available with IANS, no uniforms would be allowed and caps and dark glasses have to be avoided in the candidates’ photographs.

The notification also said that the candidates are required to submit a photograph taken during the preceding period of three months before the date an election is notified.

The photograph should be of stamp size with a white or off-white background, with full face view directly facing the camera, a neutral facial expression and with eyes open. The photo may be in colour or black and white as may be convenient for the candidate.

“Following the directives of the Election Commission, we are arranging the new systems for the forthcoming by-elections in the state,” Tripura’s additional Chief Electoral Officer Debashish Modak told IANS.

“The commission considers that photographs of candidates (on the EVMs) will facilitate the electors in casting their votes and also the candidates in their campaign,” Bhar said, adding that the candidates’ photographs would also be printed on the postal ballots issued to the security personnel and officials engaged in the election process.

The Supreme Court judgement had come on a public suit filed by Delhi resident Ashok Gahlot.

“It would be a major boost for the Indian electorate that predominantly is illiterate and semi-literate often get confused with candidates having identical names in the fray. Political parties often field dummy candidates with a similar name to confuse the voters,” said Hiranmoy Chakraborty, who has considerable experience in the field. He was Tripura’s joint chief electoral officer and has worked closely with several chief election commissioners, including the high-profile T.N. Seshan.

“Sometimes candidates have been defeated because their votes had, supposedly due to confusion, gone to the dummy namesakes,” Chakraborty added.

“Although suitable suffixes are added to the names of candidates in the event or two or more candidates having same name, this new move would remove confusion in the minds of electors at the time of voting,” Chakraborty noted. (IANS)

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Dr. Nasim Zaidi takes charge as 20th Chief Election Commissioner

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Picture courtesy: PIB

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Dr. Nasim Zaidi has assumed charge as 20th Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) succeeding H.S. Bramha here today.

Speaking to media persons after taking over charge, Dr Zaidi said, “I feel privileged and honoured that I have been given this responsibility to lead one of the finest institutions that the Indian Constitution has provided a glorious institution that reinforces Indian democracy. “
Prior to this Dr. Nasim Zaidi has served as Election Commissioner since 7.8.2012. Before joining the Election Commission, Dr. Zaidi had served the nation as a long time civil servant of the Indian Administration Service (1976- Batch).

Dr Zaidi also said that he would like ECI to be more vibrant, transparent & accountable organisation, which is open to receiving new ideas and best practices.
The full text of Dr Zaidi Statement on assumption of charge is as follows ::-

“ECI will focus on voter-centric activities form enrolment to enabling them with e-services. ECI will formulate a strategic plan for 10-15 years based on principles of independence, transparency, professionalism, inclusiveness and measurable outputs. The plan will be based on all round institutional strengthening, voter education and an efficient election operation, ” Dr Zaidi said.

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AAP keeps a 24-hour Vigil at EVM locations post-poll

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Exit Poll Delhi Elections 2015
by NewsGram Staff

Exit Poll Delhi Elections 2015

Voting for Delhi Assembly Elections 2015 concluded today as an unprecedented 67.21 percent voters turned out at the polling booths to elect the new government in the state. Except for few minor incidents, the polling was overall hassle-free. The counting of votes will be done on February 10.

As the voting ended, a number of exit polls came up to project the winning party. Today’s Chanakya, a political research organization that was most accurate in predicting the outcomes in Delhi Assembly polls 2013 and General Elections 2014, has prophesized a clear majority for Aam Aadmi Party. It predicts 42 to 54 seats for AAP, 16 to 28 for BJP, 0 to 2 seats for Congress, and 0 to 2 seats for Others.

Exit polls by ABP-Nielsen, Today-Cicero, IndiaTV-C Voter, etc. also projected a clear majority for Aam Aadmi Party. Taking out an average of such major exit polls, the stats come out as: AAP – 43, BJP – 26, and Cong – 1. Despite the unanimous projections, BJP leaders still seemed to be hopeful of a majority and urged the media to wait till the counting day. On the other hand, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha expressed utmost disappointment as a party which might indicate an overhaul in its think tank and key positions in coming times.

Meanwhile, AAP’s CM candidate Arvind Kejriwal tweeted later in the evening that the party has ‘deployed volunteers to keep round the clock vigil on the premises housing EVMs.’ It should be noted that he had raised concerns over probability of tampering of the EVMs earlier and was reassured by the ECI.

In three days from now, the mandate of the people of Delhi would decide the destiny of the state and if the Aam Aadmi Party comes to power, the world would be watching over as expectations of good governance and a corruption-free state are set to soar high.

Image Credit: Yogesh Mhatre