By dint of my profession as an election forecaster, I meet and discuss election prospects with a wide range of political parties. They all now fear the EVM factor in polls. Large scale malfunctioning of EVMs in polls, surprising election outcomes, ‘business’ enquiries by techies offering fixing solutions and the wider public awareness of vulnerabilities of EVMs by activists over the past year have all contributed to healthy doubts and skepticism about EVMs.
Interestingly, one group that we have been able to influence is the officials of the Election Commission of India and officials involved at state and district levels. They are much less convinced about the EVMs as they were earlier yet their occupational compulsions dictate that they cannot support our arguments.
Why have our efforts begun to make a telling impact so quickly? It is because our arguments are extremely powerful, the facts we have presented are incontrovertible and the scientific evidence that has been made available by researchers is irrefutable.
There has not been a word from the Election Commission of India on the EVMs in the last one month. This has been a period when our campaign against EVM vulnerabilities was at its peak. As many as 13 parties jointly signed a memorandum favouring a review of the EVMs. ECI expert Prof. Indiresan is much more defensive about EVMs today than he was a few months ago.
The Congress party in Karnataka spoke against the EVMs and observed that the party fared better in local Panchayat polls without use of EVMs and demanded a review of use of EVMs. Another member of the ruling UPA coalition at the Centre, the Trinamool Congress alleged tampering of EVMs to win local polls in West Bengal.
The electronic voting machines have become deeply suspect in the eyes of the Indian political class. The EVM phobia has just begun. It would grow like rapid fire leading to their discontinuation in elections.
For the EVM enthusiasts, here go the press reports which show how the EVMs malfunctioned on a large scale in West Bengal local polls. It is ground level evidences like these that make the use of EVMs suspect in the eyes of the political class and the public.
Here are a few excerpts from the media on civic polls held in West Bengal yesterday.
Trinamool condemns ‘unprecedented’malfunctioning of EVMs
Netindia123.com (UNI story)
Speaking to newsmen here this evening at Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s residence, party General Secretary and Union minister of state for Shipping Mukul Roy described as ”unprecedented” the incidents of large scale malfunctioning of EVMs in several booths forcing the authorities to suspend polling for long time in several wards……………
EVM (Tech) trip takes toll on poll
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) proved a hindrance to the smooth conduct of the civic polls across the city. Complaints against malfunctioning or defunct EVMs started pouring in from as early as 8am, when the presiding officer of a booth in Jubilee Park (ward 94), off Prince Anwar Shah Road, was forced to suspend polling following a mismatch between the number of votes cast and the figures displayed on the machine.
“From 7 to 8am, 48 people had cast their votes but the machine registered only one. We had no option but to suspend polling,” said the presiding officer of booth 13A at Jatiya Shishu Siksha Sadan.
A similar complaint came from a booth at Deshbandhu Girls’ School (ward 83) on Sadananda Road. 42 votes were cast in the first 75 minutes, but the machine showed only eight votes.
At a booth in Mahadevi Birla Shishu Vihar in Ballygunge (ward 65), a voting machine developed a snag and the replacement, too, proved faulty. Voting resumed after a third machine was brought in.
The state election commission replaced an EVM in a Behala booth after Trinamul candidate Dola Sarkar (ward 128) complained that a polling official had operated the machine the previous night in violation of rules. The official, too, was taken off duty.
Panel chief Pande attributed most of the EVM glitches to link failure. “The machines that became defunct because of link failure were replaced almost immediately. The snags halted polling for a maximum of 15-20 minutes in each booth,” she added.
Roy had complained to the panel, stating that officials had tampered with the machines under the guise of changing batteries.