Panther’s Party joins chorus against EVM as EC readies paper-trail machines

The Jammu & Kashmir Panthers Party has joined Janatha Party’s Subramanian Swamy and others in questioning the dependability of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in India.

Delivering a speech on “National Voters’ Day” at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, Bhim Singh, noted activist, lawyer and the leader of the party, said EVMs were being misused to rig elections in India.

“EVMs have been manipulated according to the dictates of the Presiding Officers. The electoral fraud can easily be played in the far-flunged areas where polling is held in the presence of illiterate rather untrained polling agents. A Presiding Officer is likely to be tamed by ruling party as it has happened,” Bhim Singh told an audience that included the union law minister, chief election commissioner and the vice president.

A presiding officer is the in-charge for a polling station, and is a government servant temporarily under the supervision of the election commission.

He said EVMs have shown very high voting percentages in hilly areas — 70 to 95 per cent. “I have personal experience that the Presiding Officers perform the duty to press the button for the voters… Any how after the poll is over, several presiding officers under the dictates of their superiors try to add the voting percentage,” he said.

Echoing the arguments of Swamy, who has successfully forced the Election Commission to start trials of “voter verified paper audit trail” machines through the judiciary, Bhim Singh pointed out that EVMs have already been discarded in many democratic countries in the world. “EVMs do not enjoy the credibility of holding free and fair polls,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Election Commission told the Supreme Court that a paper-trail based system is soon going to be introduced in the country, responding to Swamy’s petition.

“The system will be stabilised within a few months,” an affidavit filed by the EC said. The machines will be introduced in the bypolls this year, the Commission told the Supreme Court.