Amidst a raging controversy over the allegations of EVM tampering, Economic Times on Wednesday carried a report suggesting that even Russia may soon be rolling out the machines to conduct elections there.
No sooner was the ET story published, did almost every news outlet move in with lightening speed to reversion the original content and publish with headlines supposedly critical of those opposing EVMs in India.
Almost every headline was suggestive of one fact that while opposition parties in India questioned the authenticity of EVMs, a country like Russia had shown interest in learning about the machines.
Here are some of the headlines:
ET: Russia wants India’s EVM technology for its 2018 presidential election
India Today: While we worry about tampering, Russia seeks our EVM technology for presidential election in 2018
India Times (Times of India Group)- Kejriwal Might Hate EVMs, But The Russians Seem To Love It And Want The Machines For 2018 Presidential Elections
Activist Roshan Shah said, “There is no reference whatsoever in any Russian internal EC proposals to use EVMs. They recently agreed to use QR code. Shame on Economic Times for a planted story that Russia wants to use our EVM technology.”
Shah accused the paper of planting the story to dilute the criticism the Election Commission was facing on EVM tampering.
Russia had considered using, not EVMs, but QR code technologies in November last year, as reported by website chelorg.com.
Its report in November said, “Suggestions for use of QR code technologies when entering records to the automated system “Elections” are formulated, the experiment on its use this year proved to be quite successful, perhaps this will be expanded on any further elections outside of the single voting day in the year.”
The QR code was used by Russian election commission for 18 September polls and its success had prompted the authorities to consider its use even for future elections.
More recently, on 18 February, website Free News reported, “During the meeting of February 8 members of the CEC by a majority of votes supported the decision to introduce QR codes on the electoral protocols from the middle of may and not July as planned before. This measure in the elections will help to avoid mistrust and claims, I’m sure the CEC Chairman, Ella Pamfilova.”
Once again there was no mention of EVM even being considered or reference to the India visit of Nikolai Levichev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian election commission as ET had reported.
The issue of EVM tampering has dominated the political discourse for several weeks now with the topic being discussed in India’s Upper House on Wednesday. Indian politicians such as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Bahujan Samaj Party chief, Mayawati, Congress and AIADMK have demanded the return to ballot papers citing the vulnerability of EVMs to tampering.