Himachal Pradesh

HIMACHAL ELECTIONS PROVE THAT VOTER VERIFIED PAPER AUDIT TRAIL IS THE FUTURE OF FREE & FAIR ELECTIONS

JAGDISH BALI is a columnist & author of a motivational book — The Spark is Within You

JAGDISH BALI, OPINIONMAKER@The Hush Post: Today, the first phase of Gujarat Vidhan Sabha elections has begun. But the assembly elections held last month in Himachal Pradesh, is what I will focus on. Here is why? Working as a Presiding Officer in the recently concluded Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha polls, I observed a smile expressive of satisfaction on the faces of many voters who came out after pressing the blue button on the ballot unit (BU) in the voting compartment. They passed by me leaving behind the beautiful smile spreading on their faces that nudged me to ask at least once about the secret of their smile. One of them smilingly said: “Sir, is baar maine dekha akhir mera vote usiko gaya hai, jiska button maine dabaya.” Amidst the polling, when I could not help getting off to relieve myself, I found the voters standing in queue outside chatting: “Is baar to ham ye bhi dekh sakte hain ki kya hamara vote usiko gaya jiska button ham dabaenge.” However, one odd voter, after coming out of the voting compartment, asked me: “Sir, kya main apne vote ki krekshan kar sakta hun?” I nodded my head ‘no’ and I could assess from his facial expression as to what had gone wrong with him. This is the brief introduction of VVPAT machines which has enhanced the credibility of the EVMs. After thumping win of the BJP in UP elections and AAP’s loss in Punjab, various questions were raised about the veracity of the EVMs. Now with the arrest of an IAS aspirant from Pune by HP police for sending text messages to the candidates claiming that he could hack EVMs for their advantage, the question has again got life, even if briefly so. All this clamour and claims, notwithstanding, with the introduction of VVPAT in polling, such questions do not hold much water.

If one happens to follow the preparation of EVMs with the VVPAT for the actual day of poll, he will have every reason to affirm that voting through EVMs is as good and valid as the voting through paper ballots. The process of randomisation of EVMs at different levels leaves almost nothing to doubt about its working. Rigging this whole process doesn’t seem to be possible. Whatever little doubt is left for the poll day, is eliminated by the mock poll that is carried out in the presence of polling agents. Not one, two or three but fifty votes are cast to the different candidates including NOTA. The votes thus polled are then tallied with the data recorded in the control unit (CU) of the EVM which in turn is matched with the voter’s slips printed out by the VVPAT. Thus every bit of doubt vanishes. Even if after this long process of cleansing and recleansing, should someone have doubts, he may ask for the counting and matching of Control Unit data with the slips stored in the VVPAT compartment. One may even ask to randomly verify the data of any polling booth or constituency with the voters’ slips in the VVPAT.

Yes, the EVM may develop some snag as any machine does at the time of poll. But it is different from hacking. Instead, all such possibilities are nullified by different level checks and randomisations of EVMs till the actual poll. Now as the VVPAT has been introduced, hacking of so many machines will require a godly interference.

Those who doubt will even doubt their own beliefs as a weak captain blames the toss for loss, but the queerly looking VVPAT kept in equally queerly looking case has certainly strengthened the veracity of EVMs and our democracy.

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