The Election Commission has convened an all-party meeting in New Delhi to discuss preparations for the Lok Sabha polls due next year where the issue of vulnerability of EVMs is likely to remain in focus. Sources in the poll panel said the meeting is not restricted to the issue of electronic voting machines but is part of its annual calendar to meet stakeholders.
"Since elections to the Lok Sabha are due next year, it is pertinent that EC meets parties ... the agenda includes paid news, model code violations, inflammatory speeches ... the EC will also inform parties about the progress made in procuring latest EVMs and paper trail machines ahead of general elections," said an EC functionary.
Some political parties are set to raise the issue of alleged vulnerability of EVMs to hacking and tampering. But EC is expected to remind them that none was able to tamper with the machines in last year's EVM challenge.
Hours ahead of the meeting called by the Election Commission, Congress once again appealed to EC that the next Lok Sabha polls be held on ballot paper. According to reports, Congress has written a letter to the commission to request that 2019 Lok Sabha election be held through voting paper ballots for transparent elections in the country.
This is a continuation of its long-standing position that faulty EVMs have been sacrificing democracy at the alter of elections.
The EC has send out invites to seven national and 51 regional parties.
In a similar meeting held last year, the EC had assured parties that paper trail machines would be used in all polling stations. The EC would also update them about the decision.
As of now, results of only one paper trail machine per constituency is matched with EVM. There have been demands to increase the number of polling stations where results would be matched.
Seventeen opposition parties have come together to make a fresh demand that voters in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections exercise their franchise by stamping the ballot paper, not pressing the button on EVMs.
The EC's invite to parties for the meeting went before the opposition parties approached it on the issue of EVMs.
(With inputs from PTI)