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'Is EC Preparing To Manipulate The Elections?'

May 29, 2024 08:54 IST
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'They are changing the voting percentage after voting is done. And that too by 5-6 percent of votes which is clear manipulation.'

'Victory margin is half percent maximum and here the Election Commission is changing the vote count by 5-6 percent.'

IMAGE: People queue to cast their vote outside a polling station in Sonipat, Haryana, May 25, 2024. Photograph: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

Last month the Supreme Court of India turned down pleas for reviving paper ballots and also cross-verification of votes cast on electronic voting machines with a voter verifiable paper audit trail or VVPAT.

In the pleas by Association for Democratic Rights and others, the top court of the land held that suspicions regarding tampering of the voting machines were 'unfounded'.

And last week a vacation bench of Justice Dipankar Datta and Satish Chandra Sharma adjourned the hearing on the application filed by ADR to upload polling booth-wise voter turnout data on the ECI Web site during the Lok Sabha elections.

The NGO's writ petition, filed in 2019, will now be heard by the Supreme Court after the Lok Sabha elections are over.

How do these two decisions by the Supreme Court affect the electoral process?

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ spoke to M G Devasahayam, retired IAS officer who had gone to the Supreme Court to do away with EVM base voting style on behalf of the Citizens Commission on Elections, to find out.

The Supreme Court has refused to intervene in petitions in the EVM-VVPAT case. How do you look at it?

There was total misunderstanding from the Supreme Court side on this issue. The Election Commission is totally prejudiced. They talk about technology of the EVM, but all this is utter nonsense.

EVM is not a very high tech product, but a very ordinary product. EVM is only a dabba and they are using this to conduct elections.

Democracy is the will of the people where citizens are sovereign. And what are elections? People transfer their sovereignty to an elected representative every five years. This is the essence of elections and a democracy.

Transfer of sovereignty is a solemn affair and the sovereign should know the vote s/he casts. End to end verifiability is a must.

When you go to vote and press a button, the slip comes out of the machine and tells you whom you voted for, isn't it? Does it not mean end to end verifiability?

We will come to the slip matter later. I am talking of basic EVM voting. Take the example of Germany as a country. The EVM matter went to courts in 2009 and the court ruled (external link) that EVM voting is unconstitutional.

In India, Subramanian Swamy went to the Supreme Court against the Election Commission of India in 2013 where they agreed to go for VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail). They did to satisfy the democratic principle. This was introduced in 2014 when the voter presses the button of a political party a paper comes out of the machine which shows him which party he voted for. This continued in 2019 too.

So what is the problem? Because the voter gets to know which party he voted for...

The problem here is that there are two votes now. One is the slip which you saw as a voter and one is in the machine after you pressed the button.

EVM has recorded your vote. Now, the correct logic should be the slip of vote that you saw should also be counted. But it is not happening and here the fraud took place.

The Supreme Court of India refused to understand that people were cheated.

But when you raise such questions it is tantamount to stating that the voting system in India is a fraud.

This is total fraud. You are showing me the slip of my vote but not counting it, so this is fraud.

Did anyone prove it?

You are not counting my slip vote, and what more proof do you want? I voted and I saw my symbol, but you are not counting my vote. They are counting what I did not see as it is stored in the EVM.

I don't know what is stored in the EVM. I don't know what is in the memory of the EVM. We only want the VVPAT slip to be counted. What is wrong in that?

But will it not take a lot of time to count?

It will not take more than one day. They (Election Commission of India) say it will take 6-7 days, but that is not true. Even if it takes six days to count votes, so what? It took them more than a month to conduct elections so what is wrong if they count votes in six days?

Deliberately, they (Election Commission) are cheating you.

VVPAT was introduced with good and honest intentions. This was the time when S Y Quraishi was the chief election commissioner as he introduced VVPAT in the system. But after Quraishi (retired), all the election commissioners of India played mischief and did not count the VVPAT slips which they were supposed to do.

Right now people are talking of Form 17C too and suspicions are being raised about free and fair voting.

There is a lot of suspicion against the Election Commission of India. There is a lot of tampering happening in voters' list and particularly minority votes are being deleted. The Election Commission has done nothing about it.

Cross-verification is not happening when it comes to counting what you have seen as a voter in the slip which the Election Commission is not counting. They misled the Supreme Court of India and filed a false affidavit.

So you as a voter do not know how many votes were polled and how many votes were counted.

What about Form 17C which case the Supreme Court refused to entertain?

17C is a record document which gives the number of votes polled per polling booth. It is compiled per constituency and released to the public so that there is no confusion on counting day.

Here too the Supreme Court adopted a hands-off policy, and will decide the case after voting is done.

They should not have gone to the Supreme Court of India and the Supreme Court cannot give divine status to the Election Commission.

The question I am raising is, is the Election Commission of India is preparing the ground for manipulation of the elections.

First, the Election Commission said they will not cross verify the votes and now they tell you that they will not even tell you how many votes were polled.

Conducting free and fair elections is the task of the Election Commission and not the Supreme Court. The Election Commission enjoys the same status in our Constitution as the Supreme Court.

In Tamil Nadu the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam collected Form 17C from 68,320 polling booths so why could other opposition parties not do the same? Don't you think it is the duty of the Opposition to ensure form 17C is collected in all polling booths?

It is not the duty of the Opposition parties to do this work, but that of the Election Commission of India.

Election is not meant for the political parties, but for the people of India. They have the right to know.

As far as the DMK is concerned they are the ruling party in Tamil Nadu and they have money and resources to do such work.

On polling day if a candidate has to get Form 17C the same day, he will have to spend at least Rs 50 lakhs to Rs 60 lakhs (Rs 5 million to Rs 6 million) on that day. He will have to appoint at least 5,000 agents in different poll booths. These agents will have to wait till 9 pm and then compared the votes polled with Form 17C.

The ruling party can do this exercise as they have money, but most of the Opposition parties do not have that kind of money.

The Election Commission of India knows this and therefore they are not giving form 17C (on time) and cheating the Opposition. They are not giving information.

What was the scene with Form 17C in previous elections?

Before the 2024 elections, the Election Commission gave details of number of votes polled in each polling booth within 24 hours. They are not doing that now. This time they are changing the voting percentage after voting is done. And that too by 5-6 percent of votes which is clear manipulation.

Victory margin is half percent maximum and here the Election Commission is changing the vote count by 5-6 percent. After they do that they do not respond to any questions and seal their offices. They are like the Pentagon in the USA.

This is not free and fair elections. Election is for whom? It is for citizens like me and I have a right to know.

Do you feel going back to ballot paper is the answer?

EVM can improve the system. You get your VVPAT slip on which it says whom you voted for. Take that slip, put it in a box. And let there be simultaneous counting of the EVM and the slip box too. There will be no hera-pheri.

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India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024