EVM technology is foolproof: CEC Rawat

Nagpur: Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat today said the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is a foolproof technology and has not witnessed any malfunctioning in the past several years.

“The maximum failure rate of EVM is 0.5 per cent,” Rawat said, delivering a lecture organised by the Dainik Bhaskar group here.

Even this failure rate was because of initial glitches experienced in Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines which were introduced in 2017, he said. However, experts from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, have examined the cause of these glitches and the VVPAT machines functioned smoothly in the recent by-elections in the country, he said.

Talking about the demand of reintroduction of ballot paper by some political parties who are sceptical about EVMs, Rawat said, “The Election Commission will be speaking with the political parties concerned which have sought time to discuss the issue, and clearing their doubts.”

In the past, lakhs of votes would be declared invalid during ballot paper voting for reasons such as wrong stamping, he pointed out. To stress that the polling process has improved, he cited “Electoral integrity perception index”, a project of Harvard and Sydney Universities. India got a score of 59 out of 100 as per this index for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, while the score improved to 69 out of 100 one year later, after the 2015 Bihar elections, he said.

“The Election Commission is continuously taking steps, be it in use of technology or in addressing the concerns of any voter, party or candidate….We are committed to address the concerns and clear the doubts all stake-holders,” Rawat said.

He also touched on the role played by “big data firms” such as Cambridge Analytica.

“Money is being pumped into these firms to carry out a very detailed and minute research on the prospective voter to get accurate guidance on how to influence them. This kind of influencing is slowly taking place in our country, however, it has already influenced elections in many developed countries,” he said. “

“It is a matter of grave concern and danger as physical movement of money can be curbed but misuse of money in elections is taking place in other form as these,” said Rawat.