In its political resolution moved at the party’s two-day plenary session, the Congress spoke about the “apprehensions among political parties and the people” over the misuse of the Electronic Voting Machines, or EVMs, to manipulate the outcome contrary to the popular verdict.
“To ensure the credibility of the electoral process, the Election Commission should revert to the old practice of paper ballot as most major democracies have done,” it said.
The Election Commission has consistently defended the voting machines, insisting that they were tamper proof. Beginning with the 2017 assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the poll panel started using an additional device that presents a paper receipt to confirm that the vote went to candidate selected by the candidate.
Last year, the Congress had also approached the Supreme Court to request that at least 25 per cent of the paper audit trail be separately counted in Gujarat elections. The court turned down the plea, suggesting that this could be taken up as part of a larger electoral reforms petition.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati had first made allegations of rigged EVMs soon after the 2017 UP election results were announced. The BJP had won 325 of UP’s 403 seats along with allies, leaving very little to be shared among the rest. Ms Mayawati had to settle for 19 seats. Other opposition parties in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere soon joined her.
But the Congress isn’t the first party to demand that the country go back to ballot papers.
Back in 2009 when it was the Congress that was doing well in elections, LK Advani, the BJP patriarch, had echoed concerns expressed by several state BJP units about the reliability of the machines. This demand was also rejected by the Election Commission citing a study by a technical experts led by an IIT professor.
Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party chief had recently accused officials of using defective machines to slow down voting in polling booths of Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur and Phulpur where his party was expected to do well.