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Oppn parties welcome EC's EVM paper trail decision, demand it at 20% booths

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 6 July 2017, 20:04 IST
(Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times/Getty Images)

If media reports are to be believed, the Election Commission of India (EC) has decided in favour of a major reform in the electoral process.

The election watchdog has reportedly made it mandatory to tally electronic voting machine (EVM) results with paper trail slips in at least 5% of polling stations in each Assembly seat. 

This comes months after a nationwide campaign by a large number of parties against alleged EVM tampering.

The fact that the EC has agreed for mandatory tallying indicates the EC's readiness to accommodate the concerns of all political parties. Initially, the commission was reluctant, maintaining resolutely that its EVMs were not faulty and there was no scope for tampering. Although the EC has still not admitted to the possibility of EVMs being vulnerable, the decision suggests a rethink.

According to a media report, the tallying will be limited to not more than 14 polling stations in each Assembly seat, selected randomly. The number of polling stations in one seat differs from state to state, depending upon the number of voters.

For example, Delhi had over twelve thousand polling stations spread over its 70 constituencies, during the Assembly polls in 2015. That puts the average number of stations per seat at a little over 170. Under the new EC guidelines, yet to be formally issued, at least 23 of these could see mandatory tallying of EVM results with paper trails.

Parties' conditional welcome

That should come as a relief for those political parties that had been raising allegations of tampering of EVMs. Many of them have indeed welcomed the move, but with riders.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), for example, was among the first ones to hail the EC for taking the decision. AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted early on, congratulating the EC.

AAP leaders later also addressed the media on the issue, saying they welcomed the decision, and that it showed that questions of EVM tampering were still alive. Significantly, they stressed that the number of seats that will see mandatory tallying should be raised to 25%.

The CPI(M) has also welcomed the move, with senior leader Mohammad Salim saying that 5% is a good beginning. However, Salim told Catch that the EC should eventually order tallying on all seats, wherever a demand for tallying comes up.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal, which was among the parties that had been vocal on the issue, also welcomed the EC's move. Spokesperson Manoj Jha told Catch that this decision clearly indicates that EC has accepted that there was merit in the Opposition's complaints. “We would urge the EC to eventually raise this number to 20% of polling stations in every seat,” Jha added.

First published: 6 July 2017, 20:04 IST
 
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.

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