At an all-party meeting convened by the Election Commission of India on Monday, several opposition parties pushed for reverting back to ballot paper in place of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the general polls 2019.
Interestingly, the ruling NDA constituent Shiv Sena also joined them in their demand for the ballot paper.
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Shiv Sena leader Anil Desai said, "We have made a point... Let us go back to ballot papers. We have insisted on ballot papers for elections to the largest democracy."
Parties like the Congress, CPI, Trinamool Congress, BSP, DMK and Shiv Sena demanded the return to ballot papers. However, the BJP and BJD said they were satisfied with EVMs.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said either the count to verify electronic voting machine (EVM) results with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) should be increased or there should be a return to ballot paper while the AIADMK said it was fine both with EVMs and ballot paper.
AAP's Raghav Chadha said EVMs can be easily hacked and there were incidents where these machines have created trouble during elections.
"At least 20 per cent voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines and electronic voting machines (EVMs) should be verified or paper ballot system should be implemented," he said.
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Meanwhile, in a related but different incident, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) patron Sharad Yadav on Monday also demanded that the Lok Sabha elections 2019 be held through the ballot paper as there were doubts about the electronic voting machines in the minds of the voters.
"There are doubts over the EVMs in the minds of the people. And despite the Supreme Court order of May, 2017 the Commission has not fulfilled its promise over the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)," he told a press conference here.
Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat on Monday 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.”
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.
Earlier in the day, the Commission had convened an all-party meeting. The agenda was to discuss preparations for the Lok Sabha elections 2019.
The general elections will take place in the months of April-May next year to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha
It may be recalled that earlier this month, at least 17 political parties, including Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had supported the Congress claims on tampering of EVMs. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) brushed aside the allegations.
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(With inputs from agencies)