Days after the damp-squib anti-EVM 'hackathon' in London where a person made tall and unsubstantiated claims regarding the hackability of Indian EVMs, the Election Commission of India has ruled out a return to ballot voting as opposition parties have demanded.
Addressing an event, the Chief Election Commissioner, Sunil Arora, has questioned the campaign to malign EVMs:
"Why have we made a machine, that too manufactured under secure conditions by two PSUs that are doing lot of work for the defence establishment of the country, a football, and are doing a motivated slugfest over it?"
He pointed out the illogicality of it all, adding, "This is very unfortunate. We had one result in 2014 general elections and a totally different one four months later in Delhi. Later, many elections took place. If the result is 'X' then EVMs are right and if not, then EVMs are faulty?"
He put out the numbers and figures that ensure that the EVM-based voting process remains accurate: "6 incidents were reported out of 1,76,000 polling booths. Actions were taken and I say that these 6 incidents should not have happened. We have a committee supervised by technocrats and scientists who oversee the manufacturing of EVMs."
He then dismissed any return to ballot voting, harkening back to the problems that used to entail: "However, I would like to make it very clear - not just me but also the ECIs of the past and future - that we are not going back to the era of ballot papers - the era where we have ballot papers being employed, muscle-men being deployed, delays in counting and too much harassment of policemen on the ground."
The Opposition's campaign against EVMs has reached fever pitch, with some quite incredible fearmongering being carried out. The 'hacker' in the London news conference, who appeared from the US with his face partially blacked-out, claimed that the 2014 Indian general elections, as well as the Brexit vote, had been rigged, that people had been killed in an effort to silence them over bringing this to light, that EVMs could be hacked and that he knew this because he had worked for the machine's designer ECIL, among others. However, virtually all of these claims have been contradicted and no evidence at all has been furnished from the claimant to back himself up. Congress leader Kapil Sibal was present at the event.
Meanwhile, back in India, leaders like Akhilesh Yadav have touted the technological prowess of countries like Japan and pointed out that they don't use EVMs, as part of his argument. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, on the other hand, has called it, like he does the current NDA government, a threat to democracy: