The two Indian experts, who were in the country from Bangalore, Krishna Kumar and Sreenivasa Rao, said any delay in election results, was not because of the machines. “Any election is a long process.Whatever delay there is, has nothing to do with the EVMs,” Kumar said, during an interview with The Namibian at the ECN headquarters on Monday. Opposition parties, including the Workers Revolutionary Party, the Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters and Nudo, blamed the election mishaps on the EVMs, including the delay in the announcement of the Presidential and National Assembly results, which they claimed were being “cooked and manipulated behind closed doors” using the machines. “They are cooking and stirring a pot inside there. EVMs were pre-programmed to give a pre-determined election result in favour of the ruling party (Swapo),” human-rights activist and labour consultant August Maletzky said as he commented on the delay in announcing the results on Monday. But the Indians insist the machines cannot be pre-programmed. “The electronic voting machine is a stand-alone equipment which cannot be connected to an electronic device such as Bluetooth and cannot be manipulated. Once programmed, it cannot be altered,” explains Rao, who is the senior assistant engineer at Bharat. He says the device has been programmed only once during its manufacturing and therefore cannot be re-programmed as some people allege. The experts say back in India, the EVMs have also stirred up debate and received a lot of criticism from opposition parties since they were introduced in the country’s elections in 2000, but said all those disputes have come to naught.
“Opposition parties, even in India critisised the EVMs because they do not want to accept defeat. Whenever there is a delay in announcing the results of the elections, people blame it on the EVMs,” said Kumar, who is Bharat’s additional general manager. He said even court challenges over EVMs in India have failed.
“There were a number of court challenges over the credibility of the EVMs, both in the Indian High Court and the Indian Supreme Court. All those cases were thrown out because no evidence of manipulation of the EVMs could be found; there have been no new cases reported in the past few years,” said Kumar.
Both Kumar and Rao said Namibian opposition parties’ negative attitude towards the EVMs was not a new phenomenon for them. They have survived resistance from opposition parties in India over the same issue. Kumar said the Elections Commission of India has a technical experts committee that has looked into its operations and said India has been using the devices for years without any reported rigging or manipulation incidences.