Frederick FN Noronha ààààààààà à on Wed, 2 Jul 2014 16:54:30 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> India-EVMs

Election Commission to scrap EVMs whose infallibility was questioned during
Lok Sabha polls

Ritika Chopra, ET Bureau Jun 28, 2014, 04.00AM IST

NEW DELHI: It's vanaprastha time for these old warhorses of Indian
elections. And unlike some lush forest, the setting for this will probably
be in a junkyard for electronics goods.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) could soon embark on a wholesale
junking exercise in which up to 900,000 electronic voting machines, or
EVMs, could be headed for the scrapyard in the next five years, after their
supposed infallibility was questioned during the recently concluded Lok
Sabha polls when some defective machines reportedly recorded all votes in
favour of just one political party.

In early April, in the run-up to the final polling day in Assam, election
officials stumbled upon a voting machine in Jorhat constituency which
transferred all votes cast to the BJP candidate.

A similar incident was reported from a polling booth in Pune a few weeks
later, when voters found their vote being cast in favour of the Congress
party irrespective of the button pressed on the electronic voting machine.

Although the defective units were replaced immediately, media reports on
the faulty machines had political parties and activists questioning the
efficacy of EVMs in general.

An embarrassed EC has now decided to embark on a major revamp ??? the largest
ever ??? of its EVM stock and abandon all 15-year-old voting machines and
replace them with new ones before the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

According to senior EC officials, some 900,000 EVMs are set to complete 15
years of age before the year 2019.

"The commission has prepared a detailed plan to get rid of them and replace
them with new ones over the next five years," said a senior EC official,
who requested anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

The proposal for the exercise, which could cost around Rs 1,000 crore, was
sent to the Modi government last week. EVMs, which are now the backbone of
elections, were first used across the country in the 2004 Lok Sabha
election, making India even ahead of several developed countries where
paper ballots are still the norm.

The use of EVMs in India started in 1981, but these were mostly done in the
form of pilot programmes and were scaled up in subsequent elections. The
adoption of EVMs accelerated from 2000-01 onwards and by 2004, EVMs were
the norm.

In the 2014 general elections, the commission had deployed close to 16 lakh
EVMs. Complaints regarding these machines, senior EC officials say, have
surfaced recently and only in those EVMs which were procured in the year
2000-2001 at the cost of around Rs 10,000 per unit.

One of the machines' manufacturer, Hyderabad-based state-run Electronics
Corporation of India Ltd, on EC's directive, found that the 2000-2001 batch
machines were acting up because of a defective part.

"They offered to repair these machines, but the commission decided to not
take chances and dispose them off. There are about 1-1.5 lakh EVMs from
this batch and they will be destroyed first as soon as the law ministry
(EC's parent body) approves the proposal," the official added.

FN P +91-832-2409490 M +91-9822122436

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