How many EVM malfunctions will it take for Opposition to reject them?  

No party in India trusts EVMs, yet we are still using them. Why? Because EVMs are the new instruments of convenience. The failure to have not taken adequate measures shows poorly on the EC

Photo by Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Rohit Prakash

Who among the Opposition parties is still without doubts about Electronic Voting Machines? Who still thinks these are the most trusted method of conducting elections in India? No elections have happened in India in recent years, including in bypolls, which didn’t witness EVMs malfunction. Even so, reports of malfunction of EVMs during the May 28 Lok Sabha and assembly bypolls crossed all limits. The plain truth of what the electorate was put through, waiting for hours in the scorching heat of more than 45 degrees to cast their vote, is there for all to see. Is this how the Election Commission of India wants to treat those who it so enthusiastically appeals to vote every time when elections are held?

But the issue of hardship one goes through in the process of exercising one’s franchise is still the lesser concern. The main question is that of faith, the invaluable and irreplaceable trust that the voter places in the Election Commission to ensure that their vote is recorded, and that it is correctly recorded. Even if the last voter is not convinced that the person she voted for actually got her vote, it indicates a massive flaw in our electoral democracy. And to nobody’s surprise, there are many who think so and this shows very poorly on the Election Commission. This is entirely due to the abject failure of the EC to take adequate measures in response to the doubts raised about EVMs over the years. It also seems to many people that the esteemed institution is abdicating its responsibility, instead of fulfilling it with all the powers it can summon.

The Congress party at its recently-held plenary called for a return to ballot papers in one of its resolutions. Many political leaders held meetings to discuss the issue. An all-party meeting called by the president of the Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav also concluded India should get rid of EVMs and the doubts related to their use. And we must not forget it was the BJP and its leaders like Lal Krishna Advani and GVL Narsimha Rao who first raised the issue after their defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections

The credit must go to the Aam Aadmi Party for first raising the issue of faulty EVMs in a big way. Other political parties didn’t make much noise at the time. They waited. But election after election, the doubts became more serious. Now almost all the major political parties of this country have expressed concerns publicly.

The Congress party at its recently-held plenary called for a return to ballot papers in one of its resolutions. Many political leaders held meetings to discuss the issue. An all-party meeting called by the president of the Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav also concluded India should get rid of EVMs and the doubts related to their use. And we must not forget it was the BJP and its leaders like Lal Krishna Advani and GVL Narsimha Rao who first raised the issue after their defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

So, virtually, no political party in India has absolute trust in EVMs, yet we are still using them. Why? Because EVMs are the new instruments of convenience. As long as you are winning elections, why even think of discarding them.

There is some time left and the Opposition must unite now to say goodbye to the EVMs, otherwise it will be a missed opportunity in 2019. The cosmetic treatment of VVPAT can’t cure the disease of EVMs when it is being implemented half-heartedly. And, the liberal voices who say that opposition only raises this issue when they lose must be answered in one voice consistently - THE EVM CAN NOT BE TRUSTED.

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