The election commission (EC) does not provide or sell electronic voting machines (EVMs) that are no longer in use to any local body, state or university to conduct elections nor can buyers procure machines from the manufacturers without the consent of the poll panel. Officials aware of the issue said on Friday that all obsolete machines –that are older than 15 years—are sent back to the manufacturers where these are destroyed as per protocol in the presence of EC officials. “A decision was taken in 2010 that all machines that are discontinued will not be lent out to anyone; because when the machines were given earlier, the users did not stick to the necessary protocol for use. When glitches occurred thereafter, there was confusion and the EC ended up getting blamed, so a decision was taken that all EVMs that are discontinued after 15 years of use will be destroyed,” an official requesting anonymity said. The EC’s clarification comes in the wake of allegations that the machines used during the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections, the results of which were announced on Thursday, were faulty.
The Commission has asserted that these machines were not supplied by it and DU authorities have also stated that the machines were procured from ECIL. HT’s questions to ECIL about the protocol maintained for the machines used by DU went unanswered.
The M1 model of EVMs produced up to 2006 were last used in 2014 general elections and were discarded as they were not compatible with the VVPAT or the voter verified paper audit trail machines that are now mandatory to use along with the EVMs.
As for procurement of new machines from the two manufacturers, Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL), another official, also requesting anonymity, said, the poll panel’s nod is requisite.