OPINION: Ballot papers or EVMs, we Indians want transparent elections

As the Lok Sabha elections 2019 are drawing near, once again the demand for ballot paper form of voting has started gaining momentum with as many as 17 political parties coming out in favour of it.

On Monday, when the Election Commission of India conveyed an all-party meeting, many opposition parties raised the demand for the ballot.

Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, BSP, DMK and even NDA constituent Shiv Sena have demanded the return to ballot papers as they claim that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) can be tampered.

Congress party leader Abhishek Singhvi said that over 70 per cent political parties have asked EC to revert to the old system of the ballot paper.

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However, the Bharatiya Janata Party is adamant in favour of EVMs.

After the meeting, while briefing the media Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said that some of the political parties have expressed concern over going back to the ballot system of voting.

“Some of the parties said going back to the ballot is bad as it would bring back booth capturing,” ANI quoted Rawat as saying.

After meeting all political parties, CEC said concerns related to EVMs and VVPATs were also “noted down”.

“Some political parties have said that there are problems with EVMs and VVPATs. These things have been noted down by the Commission,” he said and added, “All political parties were very positive and constructive in suggesting ways and means to further improve the integrity of elections.”

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The Election Commission will take all the suggestions, examine them and whatever needs to be done, will be done to improve the delivery of polls, Rawat stressed.

Undoubtedly, EVM has its own benefits as it saves costs of production and printing of crores of ballot papers, their transportation and storage. This, in turn, considerably reduce the need for counting staff and the money paid to them.

It is estimated that approximately 10,000 tonnes of the ballot papers are saved for each national election. Compared to ballot boxes, these machines are easier to transport as they are lighter and more portable.

Counting of votes is also swift. We can also argue that in places where illiteracy level is high, illiterate people find EVMs easier than ballot paper form of voting. Reportedly, the life of Indian EVMs is also long- around 15 years.

However, the doubt of tampering definitely overshadows all these benefits. Because elections are all about transparency where every single vote counts. One single vote has the power to destabilise the government.

Paper ballots undoubtedly offer greater transparency. And those parties which have said that going back to the ballot is bad as it would bring back booth capturing, I don’t agree with them.

I mean seriously? In the 21st century, in this era of social media do you think that something like “booth capturing” can be done? I don’t believe it.

As per reports, out of 195 countries only around 30 countries used or studied EVMs.

I personally believe that what we humans have created, we can tamper it too. Recently, in many elections, we have heard the rumours about EVMs being tampered. To what extent these rumours are true I don’t know but this has definitely raised several questions on the credibility of the EVMs.

And, by the way, if any party is confident of its victory, then it hardly matters how the voting is being done. Whether it is being done by EVMs or ballot, if people are with the party it will win. So why not choose a way which removes doubt and apprehension.

About the author: Author is Deputy Editor in India TV and tweets at @AnuragSason
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and views of India TV.

(Feature image courtesy: Sheeraz Rizvi-Facebook)

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