Ahead of Election Commission's all-party meeting today, Congress appeals for use of ballot paper in 2019 Lok Sabha polls

Ahead of an all-party meeting called by the Election Commission on Monday, the Congress has once again appealed to EC that the next Lok Sabha polls be held on ballot paper, ANI reported. The party had moved a resolution in this regard in its 84th plenary session in March.

This is necessary as there are misgivings on the "misuse" of EVMs to "manipulate the outcome contrary to popular verdict", the party had said during the plenary session. The party thus called for reverting to the old practice of paper ballots citing that it was adopted by other major democracies to help restore the credibility of the electoral process.

Representational Image: PTI

Representational Image: PTI

However, the clamour for ballot paper elections grew louder when 17 Opposition parties approached the Election Commission demanding that ballot papers be used to conduct the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The parties demanded that till all concerns over the use of EVMs are addressed, elections should only be held using ballot papers. They told the EC that lack of trust among parties regarding the electronic devices is "too deep-seated and pervasive".

And it was after this that the EC told them that it would convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue. The meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, may see top Opposition leaders like Mamata Banerjee, who has been at the forefront of raising this demand, make sure that all parties are united to solidy their stand against EVMs in front of the EC.

The Opposition has often over the past attributed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victories in state Assembly elections to EVM tampering. Although the demand for ballot boxes has brought most of the Opposition parties together, there are some like the AIADMK, Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD), who are not supporting the move.

Meanwhile, on its part, the EC has maintained that EVMs are tamper-proof, and that VVPATs provide an additional layer to guarantee that voting is accurately captured. It has also repeatedly urged parties to refrain from expressing doubts about their efficiency.

VS Sampath, who demitted office in January 2015 after nearly three years at the helm of the Election Commission, said going back to paper ballots "makes no sense". "Nobody will accept it," Sampath had told IANS. To incorporate safeguards and to remove doubts in the minds of political parties, Sampath said the EC could think of increasing the proportion of counting slips in consultation with parties. The quantity of sampling of slips can be increased.

However, in July 2017, during an all-party meeting, the EC had announced that all future elections would be conducted with EVMs coupled with VVPATs. And since then, the Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat has made public statements ruling out a reversal of the decision, asserting that the new EVMs have been designed with more stringent checks to rule out tampering or manipulation. "VVPAT is a credible system by which the voter knows whom he has voted for and his ballot slip has gone into a box which can be retrieved at any time in case of a dispute for verfication. It does the job of paper balloting that leaves an audit trail," he said.

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Updated Date: Aug 27, 2018 10:29:15 IST

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