New Delhi, May 12: A delegation of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference participated in the all-party meet held by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in New Delhi to discuss issues and concerns related to the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that have been raised by various stakeholders and political parties. The National Conference delegation consisted of Senior Party Leader and Former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, Provincial President Kashmir Nasir Aslam Wani and Provincial President Jammu Devender Singh Rana.
The National Conference delegation said existing concerns and apprehensions that have been raised about the safety, reliability and integrity of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) should be taken very seriously and the Election Commission of India (ECI) should ensure all possible loopholes are checked and eliminated as upholding the credibility of the electoral process and of the Election Commission should be of utmost concern.
The National Conference delegation said it was pertinent to note that all political parties with the exception of the BJP had raised objections about the current process and demanded certain changes. This, the NC delegation said, was in itself an indicator of the need to address these apprehensions for the credibility of the electoral system.
National Conference advocated that through the VVPAT (Voter-verifiable paper audit trail) system that has been proposed for all future elections, the voter should personally get a paper-trail of the vote polled through the EVM that she then subsequently casts in a ballot. “This, in addition to the EVM count, would not only provide a tangible paper trail to limit the possibility of manipulation in the most effective manner but would also make the VVPAT format more accurate and less vulnerable to any further manipulation The current proposal suggests that the VVPAT paper-trail would be automatically deposited and stored into a bin without being cast into the ballot box by the voter – which is clearly not the ideal solution”, the NC delegation said.
The delegation said while the use of technology is important and contributes towards efficiency in the system, technology should be an enabler for the electoral process and not the sole, unquestioned voting process that is beyond transparency and physical scrutiny. The National Conference delegation also highlighted its concerns over the procedure for VVPAT petitioning and said the petition process that has been envisaged and proposed is tedious and complex and that these provisions for petition would be self-defeating and be more of a deterrent than a feature to promote accountability.
The NC delegation also suggested that, once such a system is in place, VVPAT scrutiny should be held by default for a particular percentage of randomly selected polling booths and matched to corresponding EVM counts to ensure accuracy and integrity of the system. (KNS)