EC offers ‘opportunity’ to hold EVM challenge with machines of recent polls

New Delhi [India], May 12 : The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday said it would offer an 'opportunity' to the political parties to prove that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used in the recently held assembly polls were tampered with or can be tampered even with laid down safeguards.

"The Election Commission will hold a challenge and offer an opportunity to the political parties to demonstrate that EVMs used in the recently concluded elections were tampered or can be tampered even with laid down safeguards," Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said after the all-party meet.

He further announced that all the future elections will be held under the VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail system).

Zaidi also said the poll panel has "no favourites" and it was equidistant from all parties. "You should be convinced that EC has no favourites...we maintain equidistance from all parties and groups.

It is our constitutional and moral duty to stand dead centre of the circle drawn around us by 56 political parties," he added.

The Election Commission earlier in the day convened an all-party meeting over the issue of EVM and other electoral reforms.

In its communication to the presidents of all the seven national and 48 state political parties, the poll panel sent a status paper on EVMs and VVPAT.

Last month, sixteen opposition parties had urged the Election Commission to revert to the paper ballot system saying that the alleged tampering has created trust deficit in the credibility of the EVMs.

However, the poll body has been maintaining that EVMs are tamper proof and cannot be manipulated. The Union Cabinet had given its nod to sanctioned funds of nearly Rs. 3,200 crore to procure more than 16 lakh VVPATs as sought by the Election Commission. Besides EVMs, the meeting is expected to deliberate on making bribery in elections a cognisable offence, disqualification on framing of charges for the offences of bribery in elections and suggestions in VVPAT recount Rules.

On Tuesday, the AAP, during a special session of the Delhi assembly, conducted a live demonstration on how EVMs can be tampered with.

Reacting to the demonstration, the poll panel said the machine used to conduct live demonstration was a 'look-alike'' which was made to function in a 'tampered' manner.

A day before the all-party meeting, the AAP yesterday forwarded a new demand, calling for an all party committee to be formed under the monitoring of the Election Commission to ascertain whether EVMS were hacked in the recently held elections or not.

Source: ANI