Opposition complaint to EC after snags in EVMs reported across states

NEW DELHI: Like in the previous two phases of Lok Sabha elections held on April 11 and April 18, snags in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were reported from different polling stations spread across the 13 states and two Union Territories which went to the polls in the third phase on Tuesday.

In Kerala, poll officials said that EVMs failed to function in some booths and were subsequently replaced. Many leaders, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, expressed their concern over the faulty voting machines.

In Wayanad, from where Congress President Rahul Gandhi is contesting, the NDA candidate Thushar Vellappally demanded re-polling after glitches were found in an EVM at a polling station.

In a letter to the Election Commission (EC), Vellappally said: “Let me draw your kind attention to an important matter. It is reported from booth number 79 – CMS Higher Secondary School, Arappatta in Mooppanad Panchayat that the voting machine is damaged. A vote is not being cast even after pressing twice.”

In Uttar Pradesh, Abdullah Azam Khan, son of Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan who is contesting from the Rampur Lok Sabha seat, alleged that over 300 EVMs were not functioning properly.

“More than 300 EVMs are not working and the District Magistrate is doing this on purpose,” Abdullah Azam Khan told a private news channel.

However, Additional Chief Electoral Officer Brahma Dev Ram Tiwari said that no machine in Rampur had any problem.

SP candidate from Badaun Dharmendra Yadav lodged a complaint with the Election Commission (EC) against the malfunctioning of EVMs and accused the district administration of conspiring for his defeat.

In the Rohilkhand region of the state, glitches were reportedly found in around 60 EVMs. Twenty-seven cases were reported from Badaun, followed by Bareilly (14), Moradabad (11), Sambhal (7), Pilibhit (5) and Aonla (5).

Taking to Twitter, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav said: “EVMs across India malfunctioning or voting for the BJP. DMs say poll officials untrained to operate EVMs. 350+ being replaced. This is criminal negligence for a polling exercise that costs 50,000 crs.”

In Karnataka, glitches in EVMs and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) machines in many polling stations delayed or held up voting in the initial hours.

Polling could not begin in one of the booths in the Bagalkot seat due to EVM malfunctioning. Similarly, a glitch in a VVPAT machine held up voting in booth number 106 at Hubbali in Dharwad seat in the state’s northwest region for about 30 minutes.

EVM and VVPAT malfunctions were also reported from Belgaum, Bellary (ST), Bidar, Bijapur (SC), Chikkodi, Davanagere, Gulbarga (SC), Koppal and Raichur (ST) constituencies.

In Bihar, technical glitches in EVMs reportedly delayed the balloting process in Khagaria, Madhepura and Araria.

In West Bengal, glitches in EVMs were reported at a few polling stations in the Malda North seat, stalling voting for some time.

In Goa, all the EVMs at a polling station in the Cuncolim Assembly constituency in South Goa were replaced after following reports of malfunctioning, said the Chief Electoral Officer of the state.

Officials in Tripura said that voting was temporarily halted in around 100 polling stations due to the malfunctioning of either EVMs or VVPAT machines.

Meanwhile, opposition parties on Tuesday renewed their demand for verifying 50 per cent of the VVPAT slips with the EVMs, and announced plans to launch a fresh challenge in the Supreme Court on the issue.

Leaders of major national opposition parties addressed a joint press conference here, contending that “the EVMs were susceptible to malfunctioning, manipulations and hacking”.

Making a PowerPoint presentation to prove his contentions, TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said the 23 major opposition parties will file a review plea in the apex court on the EVM-VVPAT issue and back it up with other petitions soon.

Other Opposition leaders, including Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Sanjay Singh, launched a fresh attack on the EVM-VVPATs, claiming they were ridden with glitches and were also vulnerable to programming errors.