Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections: Defective EVMs send voters packing without casting ballot; EC replaces 250, many still to go


Bhopal: Digital Voting Machines (EVMs) have been first deployed by the Election Fee of India in 1999 throughout Goa Meeting elections. Twenty years later, each time India votes, it nonetheless one way or the other begins with complaints associated to defective or malfunctioning EVMs which ends up in lack of essential voting hours.

On Wednesday, even because the excited lot of early electorates in Madhya Pradesh reached their respective polling cubicles, not everybody had a easy run at voting. Movies have been shared from varied polling cubicles exhibiting voters ready for Election Fee officers to repair the malfunctioning EVMs and VVPAT machines. Chief Electoral Officer for Madhya Pradesh, V L Kantha Rao, acquired a primary hand expertise of the persistent hassle with digital voting equipment when he needed to await half an hour earlier than casting his vote on the Char Imli VVIP polling sales space in Bhopal.

Whereas widespread failure of EVMs throughout mock polls delayed the beginning of voting course of in lots of constituencies by half an hour to 2 hours, a proportional variety of technical snags have been reported whereas voting was in course of till three pm. Addressing media at three pm, CEO Rao stated {that a} whole of 1,545 of VVPAT models, 563 Poll Models and 583 Management Models have been changed until three pm, together with the 732 VVPAT models, 352 BUs and 369 CUs that had to get replaced throughout mock polls.

20 p.c models changed in Satna

Satna district, the place 20 p.c EVM models had to get replaced, was the worst affected, stated Rao, and added that further models needed to be introduced in from neighbouring district Rewa when Satna ran out of inventory. Lots of of voters returned to their properties within the district after ready over an hour.

The state recorded 50 p.c voting until three pm, and Rao claimed the ultimate turnout was anticipated to the touch the goal determine of 80 p.c.

After 12 pm, the Election Fee officers in Madhya Pradesh stated no less than 250 EVMs had been changed within the ongoing elections. The quantity is prone to enhance as studies of extra such situations pour in. At a number of locations, even the machines that have been substituted didn’t operate correctly, and had to get replaced.

The areas that reported technical snags in EVMs included Mandla, Char Imli, Betul, Harda, Indore, Bhopal and Satna, amongst different constituencies. Whereas ballot officers at polling sales space 42 in Rampur Baghelan, Satna, have been ready for brand new machines to reach as allotted EVMs malfunctioned, the voters had began to return with out casting their votes after having waited for hours.

Representational picture. Reuters

Wednesday morning polling may solely begin after a delay of two to 3 hours at a number of polling cubicles after the glitch was reported. For instance, voting on the Tilak Nagar sales space in Indore-5 constituency, the place first vote was solid at 10.54 am, was halted after a glitch was reported. At sales space no: 96 in Harda, essential 40 minutes have been misplaced resulting from a technical snag. Voting course of needed to be halted resulting from EVM glitches in no less than 26 cubicles throughout Bhopal, in line with studies until 1pm.

Movies from the Pusali village in Betul constituency confirmed voters squatted on the bottom across the polling sales space as they waited for polling to renew. “Now we have been ready for 2 hours however the machine will not be working,” stated one irate male voter upon noticing a cell digicam approaching him.

Congress requires ‘repoll’

State Congress president Kamal Nath alleged that the voting gave the impression to be affecting areas which have been Congress stronghold and recommended that the Election Fee should think about re-polling in constituencies the place truthful observe was questionable. His occasion colleague and Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner searching for an extension of polling time on the cubicles the place voting hours have been misplaced resulting from EVM and VVPAT malfunctioning. CEC O P Rawat responded saying that it was as much as the native officers to take a name on extending polling time.

Congress chief Digvijaya Singh tweeted that EVM malfunctioning was being reported from polling cubicles that had a beneficial temper in direction of Congress. He suggested Congress polling brokers to notice down the variety of the modified machines and test the machine by casting 50-100 votes as mock ballot.

Congress candidate from Bhopal-Madhya, Arif Masood filed a written grievance with the Election Fee stating that voting begun late by no less than two hours at greater than two dozen polling cubicles in his constituency and urged the Election Fee to provide extra time to voters.

Many ladies voters left polling sales space 159 in Burhanpur with out casting their vote as the method was halted for about one and a half hours regardless of the Collector and the SP reaching the spot to resolve the difficulty.

Political analyst C Okay Naidu stated that EVMs growing faults on polling day might need a direct influence on voting p.c as lot of voters return again after ready for hours. Studies got here from Bhind that voters had created ruckus after ready in queue for a very long time.

“The election fee must also be questioned as to what preparations have been carried out after massive scale reporting of EVM faults in by-election in Uttar Pradesh,” stated Naidu.

No EVMs for LS 2019?

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been reportedly main a pack of Opposition events that sought from the EC a reversal to poll paper voting as an alternative of EVMs for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

A number of petitions have been filed by political events at varied courts, together with the Supreme Courtroom, in opposition to the opportunity of tampering of EVMs. Responding to those petitions, the EC on its web site stated the credibility, reliability and robustness of EVMs has been validated by varied excessive courts in all of the circumstances after detailed evaluation of varied features of technological safety and administrative safeguards round use of EVMs.

In response to a FAQ about EVMs that go “out of order”, the EC stated: “If an EVM of a selected polling station goes out of order, the identical is changed with a brand new one. The votes recorded till the stage when the EVM went out of order stays protected within the reminiscence of the Management Unit and it’s completely positive to proceed with the polling after changing the EVM with new EVM and there’s no want to start out the ballot from the start. On counting day, votes recorded in each Management Models are counted to provide the mixture results of that polling station.”

The EVMs have been devised and designed by the technical specialists committee of the ECI in collaboration with Bharat Digital Restricted, Bangalore and Digital Company of India Ltd, Hyderabad, the 2 public sector undertakings that manufacture the machine.

CEO Rao knowledgeable that 78,870 poll models (BU) and 65,367 management models (CU) are getting used throughout polls in addition to 65,367 VVPAT machines. Furthermore, 15,548 BU, 12,248 CU and 13812 VVPATS are stored in reserve.

About 5 lakh staff have been engaged to conduct voting at 65,341 polling cubicles throughout 230 constituencies in Madhya Pradesh the place about 5.04 crore voters will train their franchise on Wednesday. Voting was to be carried out between 8am and 5pm in all constituencies barring three that fall underneath naxal-affected Balaghat district, together with Baihar, Lanji and Paraswada. Right here, voting hours have been from 7 am to three pm.

With inputs from Shahroz Afridi

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