The Hindu – EVM not to blame for Punjab verdict, AAP told

The poll panel said the only alternative for verification of results was to file a petition before the High Court for necessary orders.

Devesh Kumar Pandey

New Delhi, 2 April 2017. Asking the Aam Aadmi Party to introspect on why it did not perform as it expected in the Punjab Assembly polls, the Election Commission on Sunday said the only alternative for verification of the results was to file a petition before the High Court. The electoral body reiterated that EVMs were tamper-proof.

“It is unfair on the part of your party to attribute unsatisfactory poll performance to the alleged tamperability of EVMs,” said the Commission in reply to the AAP’s petition seeking verification of the results.

The EC said no credible material had been brought forth, ahead of the Punjab elections, to show that EVMs were tampered with. “This activity was scrupulously followed in Punjab during the recently concluded Assembly elections and nowhere any discrepancy was observed in the result of mock poll,” it said.

The Commission cited Rule 93 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, to say: “You are informed that after declaration of result, only alternative available to verify the data of votes cast is to file an Election Petition before the competent court i.e. the High Court concerned.”

The rule pertains to production and inspection of election papers. It states that, while in the custody of the district election officer or the returning officer, all the vital documents related to the elections cannot be opened by any person or authority, except under the order of a competent court.

“The control units sealed under the provisions of Rule 57C and kept in the custody of the district election officer shall not be opened and shall not be inspected by, or produced before, any person or authority except under the orders of a competent court,” says the Rule.

The Commission said the Supreme Court had never expressed any doubt on use of EVMs in the election process, strongly objecting to “wrong and imaginary exploration” of the Court order.

Dismissing the allegations of EVM tampering, the EC said various High Courts had also unequivocally reiterated that, given the effective technical and administrative safeguards, the voting machines could not be tampered and integrity of the electoral process was fully preserved.

On AAP’s contention that some foreign countries had stopped using EVMs, the EC said such comparisons were both misplaced and misguided as those used by EC were stand-alone machines.

“Therefore, ECI-EVMs cannot be compared with machines of other countries…most of the systems used in other countries are computer-based and controlled with Internet connectivity. Hence, these could be vulnerable to ‘hacking’.

The software in the ECI-EVM chip is one time programmable and burnt into the chip at the time of manufacturing,” said the EC reply.

The EC said nothing could be written on the chip after manufacturing and so, the machines used in India were fundamentally different from those adopted in various foreign countries.

As regards the use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines for further transparency and verifiability, the Commission said they would be deployed in a phased manner given the financial constraints expressed by the Central government and the production capacity of manufacturing companies.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/introspect-punjab-polls-result-says-ec-to-aap/article17762629.ece

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