|A poll official collects electronic voting machines in Guwahati. (PTI)
April 4: The Election Commission today ordered verification of all electronic voting machines to be used in the Lok Sabha elections in Assam to allay apprehensions of EVM anomaly.
The order comes in the wake of a malfunction during a mock drill in Jorhat on Wednesday when buttons pressed on the hand symbol of the Congress on four EVMs resulted in registration of the vote in favour of other parties, including the BJP.
A source said “100 per cent physical verification” of the EVMs had been ordered in Assam. Confirming this, Assam chief electoral officer Vijayendra said the verification would be done according to the “standard procedure” laid down by the Election Commission.
There are 24,275 polling stations in the state and two EVMs will be used in each polling station.
Vijayendra said there is a system in place to ensure that no malfunctioning EVM is used in the polls. “It is because of the mock poll conducted by the commission that the malfunctioning in the EVMs at Jorhat was detected,” he added.
Both the Congress and the AGP have sought rechecking of all EVMs in the state before the election.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel and other senior Congress leaders had yesterday met election commissioner H.S. Brahma in Delhi and complained to him about the discrepancy in Jorhat. The AGP had also sent a letter to the election commission yesterday, demanding rechecking of all EVMs in the state.
Vijayendra had yesterday ordered checking of all EVMs in Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency, which is in the eye of the controversy, before the voting machines are sent to the polling stations. The seat comprises 10 Assembly constituencies in Sivasagar and Jorhat districts.
According to Election Commission’s guidelines, five per cent of the total EVMs shall be checked by random selection for mock poll before handing the machines to the presiding officers.
Jorhat and four other constituencies will go to the polls on April 7 in the first of the three-phase elections in the state.
Speaking to reporters in Jorhat today, the returning officer of Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency and Jorhat deputy commissioner, Solanki V. Vasant, ruled out any kind of tampering of the EVMs.
He said a technical defect was detected in four EVMs out of 30 machines selected randomly for the second level of test to be conducted on the EVMs according to the commission’s guidelines.
“In one machine, votes cast in favour of the Congress were registered in favour of BJP while in the other three EVMs votes cast in favour of another party (not Congress) were registered in favour of a different party (not BJP),” he said. All the four EVMs have been replaced, he added.
Vasant said nearly 1,700 EVMs (including standby machines) for 1,597 polling stations in Jorhat constituency would be checked in the presence of agents of all political parties and the process would be completed by tonight.
Training: The Kamrup (metro) district administration will conduct hands-on training programmes for presiding officers on how to operate electronic voting machines at the conference hall of the deputy commissioner’s office here from April 7 to April 11.
A training programme for zonal and sectoral officers was organised at Sudmersion Hall of Cotton College today.