Calling for a quick rollout of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in all polling stations across the country, former Chief Election Commissioners S Y Quraishi and H S Brahma have said that the paper trail system is the only way to silence politicians raising doubts over alleged tampering of electronic voting machines or EVMs. Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange event on Monday (transcript will be published in The Sunday Express), Brahma said: “I personally feel worried when political parties and politicians question the credibility of voting machines. The credibility of EVMs has been established beyond doubt through court judgments. Having said that, I think, once we cover all polling stations with VVPATs, it will put an end to 90 per cent of the allegations leveled against EVMs and we will have the most dependable election process in the world.”
Several parties, including the BSP, Samajwadi Party and Aam Aadmi Party have questioned the infallibility of EVMs following the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand results. Before its triumph in the 2014 general elections, the BJP, too, had talked of EVM tampering on many occasions. VVPAT machines produce a printout of the vote cast using an EVM which can be shown to the voter to dispel any doubts. This printout is then deposited in a box and can be used to resolve any dispute regarding the election. In 2013, the Supreme Court ordered the EC to implement the VVPAT system in a phased manner and the Commission had committed to have it in place by the time of the 2019 general elections.
The EC has been writing to the Law Ministry (its parent ministry) for funds to purchase approximately 16 lakh VVPATs, for which it needs Rs 3,100 crore. The Commission, as The Indian Express reported last week, sent over 10 reminders to the government on the matter since June 2014 but hasn’t received any funds till date. The delay prompted Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi to send an SOS of sorts to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 25, 2016.