EC asks for report on EVMs being fudged 'in BJP's favour'
The Election Commission has sought a detailed report from the district poll authorities in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh on media reports that VVPAT was only dispensing slips of BJP symbol during a demonstration exercise. An Assembly bypoll is due in Bhind next week and the demonstration was part of the familiarisation exercise.
"We have sought a detailed report from district election officer," a Commission spokesperson said. The voters see Voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slip for seven seconds, which would be an acknowledgement receipt for the party they voted for in the election.
VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home. According to media reports, the receipt showed the vote going to BJP, irrespective of button pressed, during the demonstration.
The reports also claimed that Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Saleena Singh was seen telling journalists that the news should not appear in newspapers, else they would be detained at the police station.
Meanwhile, in a hurriedly called press conference in Bhopal on Saturday, Chief Electoral Officer of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh Saleena Singh denied the reports that VVPAT dispensed only BJP slips. She said her office and the district poll authorities had sent reports on the issue to the Election Commission.
"During the demonstration, the VVPAT first dispensed a slip with (BJP's) lotus symbol but the second one had (Congress') hand symbol," she said. VVPAT-enabled machines would be used at Assembly by-elections at Ater in Bhind district and Bandhavgarh in Umaria district on April 9.
Singh explained that if the VVPAT slip doesn't reflect the voter's choice correctly, he or she can file a declaration, and the election officer will have to follow a set procedure to verify the claim. If the officer finds the claim to be correct, the voting will be stopped, the CEO said.
"If it is other way round (if the claim is incorrect) the voter will be booked and can face six months' imprisonment or a fine of INR 1,000 or both after trial (under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961)," she said.
Asked about the reports that she threatened to send mediapersons to jail if they continued to say that VVPAT was dispensing only BJP slips, Singh said, "It was in a lighter vein." "Some elements, not mediapersons, twisted the issue," she added.