12 May, 2021

Wilful Machines

Despite the EC's reassurances, tampering fears remain

Prashant Panjiar
Wilful Machines
Are Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) tamper-proof? Can election results be "managed" in constituencies where margins are wafer-thin? Can these machines ensure voter anonymity in communally volatile areas? These are some of the questions raised by election watchdog bodies even as the Election Commission braces up to put a record 10.75 lakh EVMs in operational mode across the country.

There is cause for concern because of the many instances of "collusion and coercion" noticed by watch groups in the assembly elections in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh held late last year. Eyewitness accounts suggested then that "disgruntled and partisan" state employees in several regions, particularly in Rajasthan, made all the difference in constituencies where the two rival political parties, the BJP and Congress, were neck and neck.

Presiding officers in various booths were seen 'guiding' voters on how to push the button casting their vote. In doing so, the officers themselves would push a button and ask voters, queuing up, to follow suit. This was amply evident in Pithhalpur in...
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