Par panel summons senior EC officials over EVM issue

RSTV Bureau
File photo: Election officials inspecting electronic voting machines ahead of voting.

File photo: Election officials inspecting electronic voting machines ahead of voting.

With several opposition parties urging the Election Commission (EC) to revert to ballot paper system, a parliamentary committee has summoned senior officials of the poll panel to discuss issues related to the reliability of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

EC has thrown a challenge to political parties to prove that EVMs used in the recent assembly polls were tampered with after several opposition parties questioned their reliability and demanded going back to the paper ballot system. The planned challenge could take place later this month.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma is scheduled to meet on May 19 over the issue of electoral reforms.

The panel has summoned senior officials from EC, including a deputy election commissioner and a principal secretary, and secretary from legislative department, Law Ministry to appear before it and brief the members about the EVMs and the reliability, a source in the committee said.

Last week, after a meeting with 55 national and state parties, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had said that in all future elections they will use EVMs with voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT).

The poll panel announced a hackathon, which will offer the parties an opportunity to prove that voting machines used in the recent polls were tampered with.

Amid concerns raised by the opposition, the Union Cabinet last month cleared the Election Commission’s proposal to buy VVPAT machines for the EVMs to ensure transparency in the voting process.

The proposal involves getting 16,15,000 VVPAT units for EVMs at a cost of around Rs 3,173.47 crore for use in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.