EC Rules Out Bringing Back Ballot Papers For Elections

KOLKATTA — Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat on Saturday ruled out bringing back ballot papers in elections and said the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was being made a “scapegoat” as “it cannot speak.” Political parties needed to blame someone or something for their defeat, he said.

 “In July 2017, the EC had promised in an all-party meeting that elections will henceforth be conducted with EVMs coupled with VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines,” Mr. Rawat said at an interactive session on ‘Electoral Integrity and the Role of Money in Elections’ organised by the Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) here.

Asked about the malfunctioning of EVMs during the polling process, the Chief Election Commissioner blamed it on the lack of training among polling personnel.

 “Just one minute of training and you [polling personnel] are busy with mobile [phones] and WhatsApp. You lose out on the critical part. You connect [the EVM] wrongly or start it wrongly and then the machine malfunctions. And that’s when doubt is created in the minds of the people,” Mr. Rawat said.

Simultaneous election

On the subject of holding the elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies at the same time, he said that the idea was posed to the ECI in 2015, when it provided its recommendations to the government, which included changes required in the Constitutional provisions and laws.

 “The law says that the EC can issue notification for election to any House not before six months before the expiry of the term of that House…..The term of the current Lok Sabha is ending sometime next year. You can well imagine what can happen and what cannot,” Mr Rawat said, evading any direct response to the question of simultaneous elections.

To a query on whether the EC had received any communication from the Centre about advancing the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Rawat said, “Absolutely not.”

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