Election watch body Association For Democratic Reforms (ADR) has filed a petition in the Supreme Court on November 15, asking for “a court order directing the Election Commission of India (EC) to conduct actual and accurate reconciliation of (votes) data before the declaration of the final result of any election”, the Quint reported.
ADR has also appealed for an investigation into all such discrepancies in the data related to the 2019 Lok Sabha election results.
Raising concern on the conduction of the election process, the petition states: “The infirmities in the existing system of conducting elections, by declaring the election results even before the authenticated election data is released by the Election Commission, is far more serious and an alarming trend and therefore, cannot be disregarded.”
“That such a protocol is likely to create suspicion, confusion, conflict, and a very discredited electoral process...that declaration of the results by the Respondent No. 1 (EC) prior to receiving the actual data from all Returning Officers and its reconciliation in a systematic and transparent manner is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary and unjust,” it added.
The Election Commission of India had replaced polled votes data on its website as well as its mobile app, named ‘My Voters Turnout App’, after announcing the 2019 Lok Sabha election results.
ADR’s petition raises serious questions on Election Commission stating that multiple changes in the data could be an attempt to cover up discrepancies.
“...the methodology of putting out actual numbers of votes polled was changed arbitrarily and without any explanation...The discontinuation of publication of actual number of votes polled at any booth/constituency and replacing it with a percentage figure abruptly in the seventh phase of the election was seemingly done, to cover up the large number of unexplained discrepancies being recorded in majority of the constituencies.”
According to the report in The Quint, plea mentions that the ADR requested for Form 17C under the RTI application which it hasn’t received yet. The organisation was communicated orally by the EC that Form 17C is “sealed along with the EVMs after counting (May 23, 2019), and thus, cannot be shared”.
Form 17C is prepared and signed by the Presiding Officer after voting is over on the polling day, it is considered to be the most authentic document related to the number of votes polled.
“It is not only sufficient that election results are accurate, the public must also know that the results are accurate. The entire electoral process is damaged if elections are not credible even in the absence of a demonstrable scam,” read the petition
The petition further points out that “electronic voting machines (EVMs) are especially vulnerable to malicious changes by insiders such as designers, programmers, manufacturers, maintenance technicians etc”.
Referring to international technical experts on EVMs from the ‘Verified Voting Foundation’, the petition states, “The voter cannot know that the vote eventually reported is the same as the vote cast, nor can candidates or others gain confidence in the accuracy of the election by observing the voting and vote counting processes. There is no reliable way to detect errors in recording votes or deliberate election rigging with these machines. Hence, the results of any election conducted using these machines are open to question.”