Malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) have again marred elections in India and raised question about the reliability of the devices. Election Commission (EC) officials blamed heat waves for affecting the machines. On Monday numerous media reports emerged about EVMs not working, with opposition parties claiming tampering as four Lok Sabha, or Lower House of the Indian Parliament, seats and nine assembly constituencies held by-elections. However, the EC has called the large number of EVM failures exaggerated and said defective machines did not diminish the credibility of elections, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. According to media reports, the EC was also ridiculed after its officials said the EVM machines malfunctioned due to heat waves in the northern region of Uttar Pradesh.
However, the EC assured leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and leaders of the opposition Samajwadi Party (SP), Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal that the elections were going well.
The poll panel did release a statement saying the failure of the voting machines was not unusual, according to a PTI report. It said there were always “sufficient reserves” of EVM and Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines to replace defective ones at polling stations and kept secured with sector officers who took less than 30 minutes to replace the defective machines.
A paper trail machine shows the voter a slip confirming that his vote has gone to the same candidate he had chosen on the EVM. This cross-verifying procedure, introduced to foolproof the EVMs, was also under scrutiny as reports emerged about VVPAT malfunctions.