Opposition questions reliability of EVMs, demands 50 pc VVPAT count

Naidu also demanded an answer from BJP and its allies for opposing 50 per cent VVPAT count.

New Delhi: Opposition leaders including TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, Congress' Abhishek Manu Singhvi and AAP's national convenor Arvind Kejriwal, on Sunday questioned the reliability of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and demanded a mandatory paper trail count in at least 50 per cent of the Assembly constituencies in all Lok Sabha seats.

At a joint press conference, Singhvi said, "We will campaign in the whole country and outline that repeatedly questions are being raised on elections and the Election Commission is not paying due attention to it. We have heard many issues in these elections such as EVM button giving vote to a different candidate and lakhs of voters being deleted online. Fifteen state parties and six national parties are supporting this campaign. We believe that counting of five VVPATs per Assembly constituency is not good enough. We want that check of 50 per cent of VVPATs must be made mandatory in all constituencies."

"There were arguments raised about logistics and it was stated that VVPAT counting may take days. However, we believe that if the number of teams of poll officials is increased it can be done in lesser time. Between logistics and credibility, we must choose the latter. We believe that paper trail is indispensible," he said.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu said, "Paper trail is an indispensible requirement for free and fair elections. Elections in Andhra Pradesh are over. I am working to save democracy, the Constitution and for bringing transparency. Out of 191 countries, only 18 countries that too underdeveloped and small countries, use EVM. Technologically advanced Germany used it for a few years and went back to paper trail."

Naidu also demanded an answer from BJP and its allies for opposing 50 per cent Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) count.

Endorsing the demand, Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal said, "Apart from one party, all political parties and a majority of people are saying that the EVMs are wrong. People are asking if VVPAT slips are not going to be counted, are the VVPAT units just for a decorative purpose?"

He also claimed that in the last five years, not a single machine in the country has developed an error in which a BJP vote went to another party.

"Always the error is that BJP gets the vote whenever button of any other party is pressed,” Kejriwal said, alleging that the EVMs have been programmed.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who was also present at the media briefing, said that the 21 opposition parties are supporting the demand for VVPAT count in all Assembly segments and claimed that they represent "70 to 75 per cent of the voters".

"The Election Commission must support the majority of voters and agree to this demand", he said.

Representatives of Samajwadi Party, CPI(M) and several other political parties were also present at the press conference.

Naidu had on Saturday met EC officials and demanded that the poll watchdog should revert to ballot paper system immediately to "preserve the sanctity and protect the spirit of the electoral process and democracy".

On April 8, the Supreme Court had ordered the Election Commission to increase the VVPAT count of one randomly selected electronic voting machine per Assembly constituency to five in the Lok Sabha polls.

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