Law allows both EVMs and ballot papers to be used, but Election Commission says EVMs more reliable


There is no need to amend the law to use ballot papers for polling, but the Election Commission believes EVMs are a more reliable and safer means to carry out the democratic exercise.

Questions were being asked as to whether going back to the conventional system would require a change in the law.

The Congress, BSP and AAP have been pushing for the use of the conventional ballot papers and ballot boxes in future elections, saying the reliability of the electronic voting machines has come under cloud following the recently-held assembly polls.

When asked whether re-introduction of the ballot paper system would require amendment to the Representation of the People Act, a senior Election Commission functionary said the law provides for the use of both, the EVM and the ballot paper, to cast votes.

The functionary said there is no need to change the law and it is the prerogative of the Commission to decide on whether to use EVM or the ballot paper.

“EVMs have made their mark in successive elections. They are a more reliable and safer way for people to cast their vote. Things have become faster and more convenient after introduction of the machines,” another senior EC functionary said.

Like it did in 2009, the Election Commission is once again thinking of inviting parties and others in the coming days to try and hack its EVMs. Top EC officials had conveyed its plans to invite politicians and others to try tamper with the EVMs to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal when he had met them at Nirvachan Sadan last week over the issue of reliability of the machines.

In 1988, the Representation of the people Act (1951), was amended to introduce the use of EVMs for voting. The new Section 61 A made it clear that any reference to a ballot box or ballot paper in the law or the rules be construed as including a reference to EVMs “wherever such voting machine is used at any election”.

Therefore, as per law, both EVMs and ballot papers can be used.

The Congress had yesterday said the Election Commission is only the arbiter and not the controller of the democratic process and had asked the poll body to introspect and explore possibility of shifting voting from EVMs to the alternative system of paper ballots.

The opposition party also said that the EC should not be an advocate for electronic voting machines and should conduct polls to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Kejriwal had also said yesterday that the municipal election in Delhi should be “postponed” so that it can be held using ballot papers.

BSP supremo Mayawati had already questioned the reliability of the machines following her party’s poor performance in the Uttar Pradesh elections. She had also said the Commission should go for ballot papers.

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