Raising fresh doubts about the credibility of Electronic Voting Machines being used in ongoing parliamentary elections, leaders of 21 opposition parties have decided to step up pressure on the Election Commission (EC) to verify at least 50 percent of the votes polled in EVMs with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT).
The leaders told a press conference in New Delhi that they will approach the Supreme Court again with their demand.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party Chief N Chandrababu Naidu said that they would prefer a complete return to the use of paper ballots, but they are seeking 50 percent VVPAT in the current elections considering shortage of time.
He said the opposition parties were not satisfied with the April 8 Supreme Court order directing the EC to increase the number of VVPAT count be enhanced from one to five per constituency and a fresh petition will be filed in the matter or the parties will move a review plea.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that they will approach the Supreme Court and carry out a nationwide campaign on the issue of discrepancies in EVMs.
Referring to issues of malfunctioning of EVMs in the first phase of elections held on April 11, Singhvi said “questions were raised after the first phase of elections. We don't think the EC is paying adequate attention. If you press the button before X Party, vote goes to Y party. VVPAT displays only for 3 seconds, instead of 7 seconds.”
“It has become even more necessary to count at least 50% of the paper trail of VVPAT, we will demand the same in the Supreme Court,” Singhvi said.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal alleged people were losing faith in EVMs and want to return to paper ballots. But since there is paucity of time, at least 50 percent VVPATs should be counted, he added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman G V L Narasimha Rao said the opposition parties objection to EVMs was an "act of self-deception and admission of defeat".
He said if EVMs were not trustworthy how did the Congress win assembly elections in three states late last year. “It is a very convenient excuse to blame the EVM,” Rao added.
Under VVPAT system, a hard copy is generated showing the name of the candidate and his or her election symbol and displayed on a screen for seven seconds before getting cut.
During the first phase of polling four days ago, several cases of EVM malfunctioning were reported from Andhra Pradesh where TDP is fighting in all the 25 parliamentary constituencies as well as 175 assembly constituencies for which simultaneous polling was held.
The press conference was held in Delhi on Sunday.