Chandrashekar Azad: EVM based elections neither Free nor Fair

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: April 18, 2019
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad has raised questions about the fairness and efficacy of conducting elections using electronic voting machines (EVM) instead of the older method of paper ballots.

Chandrashekhar azad ravan

Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi, Azad claimed, “Since the country has entered into the first phase of general elections, the news and the social media are filled with reports of the malfunctioning of EVMs at unprecedented levels and the complaints about the reliability of the EVM-VVPAT machine.”

He further highlighted the provisions of section 49 MA of the Conduct of Election (Amendment) Rules 2013 that punish voters who complain against a mismatch in who they actually voted for and what appears in the VVPAT slip. 

According to a press release issued by the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) and other groups and individuals who organised the press conference, “In the eventuality of a voter’s complaint about a wrong choice printed in the VVPAT slip, the presiding officer asks the voter to cast a test vote in the same machine in the presence of all polling officials and representatives of candidates. In the test vote, if it turns out that the VVPAT correctly displays the choice cast in the machine, the ECI declares the voter‟s complaint as false and files charges under section IPC 177 where the voter potentially faces prison terms up to six months. The testing method outlined in the section 49 MA is irrational as it fails to distinguish true and false complain in objective manner.”

This follows a letter by electoral reforms activist Philose Koshy to the Election Commission of India highlighting this exact problem and requesting that the penal provisions be set aside. Citizens for Justice and Peace had also written to the ECI supporting Koshy’s appeal. Koshy had brought up how the provision completely ignores the possibility of hacking of or a malfunction in the EVM.

The entire press release may be read here. Koshy’s entire letter and CJP’s appeal may be read here.