The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today demanded that an all-party committee be formed under the aegis of the Election Commission (EC) and be given access to electronic voting machines (EVM) used in the recent elections in the country.
The party, which claims that EVMs can be manipulated, also sought to drum up support for its campaign through a demonstration outside the EC headquarters, a day before a scheduled all-party meeting with the commission on the issue.
AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj, who had hacked an EVM replica on the floor of the Delhi Assembly on May 9, told a press conference that the question was no longer if EVMs could be manipulated, but whether the recent polls could have been rigged.
The AAP fared poorly in the polls, which were largely won by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"We will request the EC to form a committee and put representatives of all political parties and even the EC on it. Our expert team will show the committee how voting machines were rigged," Bhardwaj said.
He said any party could name five booths where they suspected EVMs had been tampered with.
"We will demand that the machines that were used be provided to us," he said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of AAP workers came out to the streets, demanding that paper trail-equipped EVMs or voter- verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) be used in future elections.
The party's newly-appointed Delhi convenor, Gopal Rai, who spearheaded the protest, led a delegation to the EC. It met EC officials and handed over a letter addressed to Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi.
Asked why they thought EVMs could be rigged, the protesters, many of whom carried replicas of EVM machines, mostly cited Bhardwaj's live demonstration in the assembly.
"This is how BJP won the polls in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Even the division along caste lines could not have helped them with such a huge victory," said AAP worker Pragati, who had come from Mundka near the city's western border, for the march.
Vikas, a young AAP supporter, summed up the sentiment of the protest, as he observed, "Duniya mai kaunsa machine hack nahi kia ja sakta? Toh EVM kyun nahi?" (Name one machine that cannot be hacked. So why not an EVM?)
At tomorrow's EC meet, AAP will be represented by Bhardwaj, who claims expertise in the area in his capacity as an engineer, and two technical experts.
Rai said in his letter to the EC that the live demonstration -- done on a "replica of the EVMs used by the ECI" -- had demolished the idea that voting machines used by it were tamper proof.
"The Commission should allow technical inspection of its EVMs by the expert panels of various political parties to see if the EVMs can be hacked or not. Polls should be held only on VVPAT-enabled machines so that paper trail guarantees integrity of the electoral process," he wrote.
The VVPAT-equipped EVMs dispense a paper slip which helps voters confirm that their vote has indeed gone to the candidate of their choice.