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Accept defeat, don't blame EVMs - Deccan Herald
Accept defeat, don't blame EVMs
March 20, 2017
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Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal and some Uttarakhand Congress leaders only showed that they are poor losers when they faulted the electronic voting machines (EVMs) for their drubbing in the recent Assembly elections. Mayawati's charge is based on what she considers as the improbability of the BJP getting more votes in Muslim-dominated areas. Kejriwal said that votes which were cast for his party in Punjab went to the Akali Dal. Both leaders have made these statements without producing any evidence to support their charges. Complaints have also been made to the Election Commission. Parties which lost elections in the past had made similar charges, as the BJP did in 2009. It is unfortunate that our parties and leaders do not have the grace, good sense and maturity to accept defeat and look for reasons other than themselves when the people reject them.

The Election Commission has explained how it is not possible to manipulate the working of the EVMs. Everyone, except the losers and the incorrigible sceptics, would be convinced by the explanation. EVMs are standalone machines whose software cannot be tampered with under any circumstance. They are randomly selected for polling booths. The working of the machines is demonstrated to parties and their representatives before the polling, and they are deployed only after their approval. Every chance of mischief and tampering is thus eliminated, and malfunctioning machines are replaced. The argument that some countries like the US and Germany have gone back to the ballot paper system after experimenting with EVMs is not relevant to India. Those countries had a system which was part of a network and was, therefore, vulnerable to hacking. The technology of India's EVMs is different, and there is the need for more evidence to validate the doubts and questions raised about them.

The credibility of the polling process is crucial in a democracy. The reliability and integrity of the EVMs are important for this. So, every question about their functioning should be taken seriously and continuous efforts must be made to eliminate the scope for such criticisms. The Election Commission has told the Supreme Court that it would introduce the facility for voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) into the machines by 2019. The VVPAT kits are ready and have been attached to a limited number of machines so far. The government should ensure that adequate funds are released for the manufacture of the kit in sufficient numbers so that all machines are fitted with them by 2019 or earlier. Perceptions about the polling process are as important as the fairness of the process.