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UP Election Commission may use ballots in this year's civic polls

Atul Chandra | Updated on: 15 April 2017, 22:21 IST

 The Uttar Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) has stated that it will be forced to use ballot papers in the upcoming local body elections, after former chief ministers Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav complained that Electronic Voting Machines weren't tamper proof.

The SEC is demanding that the pre-2006 EVMs lying with it should be replaced with their updated versions for the urban local bodies. The Election Commission of India is not interested, it is learnt.

The responsibility of buying and handling machines used in state polls lies with the SEC, the EC is understood to have said.

An official in the SEC said, “We find ourselves in the lurch. The election process is to begin in May and there is hardly any time to print the ballot papers as it requires a long process. Even buying EVMs on such a short notice is not feasible.” He hoped that the EC would understand the SEC’s point of view.

The controversy broke out after some newspapers quoted the State Election Commissioner SK Agarwal as saying that due to the unavailability of EVMs in working condition, he may be forced to use ballot papers in the urban local bodies’ poll. Agarwal was reported to have said that ballot papers could be used even in municipal corporations where EVMs were used in 2012.

If Agarwal has his way, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party would be pleased as the two have blamed faulty EVMs for their defeat in the recent Assembly elections.

Agarwal refused to be drawn into the controversy saying that he would release a press note at a news conference as the media has been misquoting him. He refused to give a tentative date for the proposed press conference.

Asked if the old EVMs were used in the 2017 assembly elections, Agarwal replied, “Ask the Election Commission.”

In an answer to the FAQs on EVMs, the Election Commission of India’s website says: “The M1 (model one) EVM machines were manufactured till 2006 and had all necessary technical features making M1 non-hackable, contrary to claims made by some activists.”

There is nothing wrong with the pre-2006 machines except that the upgraded versions with more security features were now available. Hence the need to replace the old EVMs, the SEC official said.

Another official said that the controversy was created by the EC which “itself advised us” to phase out the old machines as their utility period was over. The SEC wants the M2 model of EVMs which, according to the EC website, were produced after 2006 and up to 2012 on the “recommendation of the Technical Evaluation Committee and incorporated dynamic coding of key codes, thereby enabling the transfer of the key-press message from the ballot unit to the control unit in an encrypted form as an additional security feature”.

One of the SEC officials said that the EVMs were first used in local bodies’ poll in 2012 but their use was limited to big cities.

It was in November last year that the SEC approached the EC for the supply of EVMs. The EC, the official said, did allot us the EVMs but as they were to come from Madhya Pradesh where elections were to be held the machines did not come to UP. Later, MP SEC officials told their UP counterparts that the machines had been sent to Maharashtra.

It was then, the SEC official said, that the EC told UP that the pre-2006 machines won’t be allotted for the local bodies’ election. Subsequently, UP asked for post-2006 EVMs but the EC has now left it to the state to procure the machines.

The state has 14 municipal corporations, 193 municipal boards and 427 nagar panchayats. As last elections were held in June-July 2012 the term of these bodies will end in July.


First published: 15 April 2017, 22:17 IST