Chief Election Officer of Chhattisgarh Mr. Subrat Sahu said today that certain reports appearing in the press recently relating to the use of EVMs and VVPATs during elections have not addressed the full gamut of issues pertaining to these machines.
The public is also curious to know more about the modalities concerning the use of these machines.
While providing detailed information about the new arrangements for voting procedure, Mr. Subrat Sahu told that all the EVM machines approved for use by the Election Commission of India in general elections and otherwise are absolutely tamper proof.
The comprehensive framework of administrative protocols and procedural safeguards comprise of the FLCs (First Level Checkings) of all EVMs & VVPATs, the strict and defined regime of Mock Polls conducted on each and every EVM & VVPAT during FLC, the candidates setting and Poll Day (before beginning of actual polls), the 2-stage randomization of EVMs and VVPATs, the stringent security protocols for storage of EVMs and VVPATs before, during and after the polls, and comprehensive videography and CCTV coverage of all EVMs and VVPAT related activity and storages in the designated strong rooms.
For each of these activities, the Election Commission of India has defined an SOP (standard operatimng procedure) which has to be followed.
These elaborate administrative and managerial frameworks have been defined for the effective and fair use of the machines, and to eliminate even the remotest possibility of any kind of tampering at any stage and at any level.
He informed that all EVMs are stored in double lock under tight security, and these warehouses are opened in the presence of representatives of political parties.
The FLC (first level checking) and the mock poll on the EVMs are also conducted in the presence of representatives of political parties. A randomisation of the machines is done first at the district level and then at the level of the local Assembly Constituency.
Further, on the EVMs, Chief Election Officer informed that the candidate setting is done in the presence of their representatives.
It must be noted here that an arrangement of names of candidates in the ballot paper and hence the Ballot Unit, is in alphabetical order, first for the National & State Recognized parties, followed by other State Registered Parties, and then by Independents.
Thus, the sequence on which the candidates appear on the Ballot Unit is contingent upon the names of the candidates and their party affiliation, and can not be as ascertained beforehand. This arrangement of sequencing the names of candidates on ballot paper effectively precludes the possibility of any pre-determined manipulation of software for rigging the votes.
Hence the serial number of the candidates of any particular political party will vary in each constituency and cannot be determined beforehand, thereby ruling out any possibility of manipulation.
Mr. Sahu further informed that the EVMs are dispatched with the polling parties with appropriate security. On the day of the poll, the mock poll is conducted in the presence of the polling agents of all candidates and so is the deletion of the mock poll data.
Even the slips in the VVPATs are removed and are accounted for, thereby readying both the machines for actual polling in the presence of the polling agents.
It is emphasized that all the above election related activities are carried out in the presence of the representatives of political parties and/or candidates/election agent. With technological advancements, the EVM technology is also upgraded for keeping pace with the emerging environment.
However, all ECI EVMs are robust and capable of tamper proof use.
Mr. Subrat Sahu told that VVPAT machines will be used for the first time in assembly general elections in Chhattisgarh this time. They will be used in all polling stations across the state. In this, the voter will be shown a slip regarding what he or she voted for, and this slip will stay visible for about seven seconds in a window for his perusal, and then it will drop into storage below.
Under rule 56 B of the Conduct of Election Rules, slips of one randomly selected polling station in each Legislative Assembly Constituency will be counted to verify tally with the electronic count in EVMs.
In the event of a complaint regarding the counting of votes in an EVM of a polling station, then the Returning Officer has full powers under rule 56 D of the same Rules to decide on the counting of the VVPAT slips of the related polling station, after passing a speaking order regarding the same, or else he may also reject the complaint with reasons.