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Saturday 18 January 2020

Sunil Arora: No question of going back to ballot papers

"We are not going back to the era of ballot papers. The Supreme Court has more than once said that ballot papers are our past," Sunil Arora

Kolkata: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Friday dismissed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s demand to bring back ballot papers in place of electronic voting machines, saying there is no question of going back to the old system.

Arora said that the Supreme Court has repeatedly given verdicts against the return of ballot papers.”We are not going back to the era of ballot papers. The Supreme Court has more than once said that ballot papers are our past,” Sunil Arora told reporters after arriving at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International airport here.

Talking on the possibilities of holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Arora said that a formal communication was awaited from the Ministries of Home and Law.”We are waiting for the formal communication from the Home and Law ministries,” Sunil Arora said.

“We are not going back to the days of a ballot paper. (The) EVMs have been in use in our country for more than two decades. And it has been a consistent policy of the ECI (Election Commission of India) for quite some time and I think it will remain the same,” Arora said.

Arora cited that there was a difference between tampering and malfunctioning. “We’ve been using the words very loosely as if they are synonymous. Tampering and malfunctioning are two different things. The commission has zero-tolerance on malfunctioning. We’re constantly trying to upgrade the EVMs and make them foolproof.”

On a US-based self-proclaimed hacker’s recent claim that the 2014 poll was rigged by tampering EVMs, Arora described the claim as “false” and a “ploy with criminal intent”.

The CEC said the EVMs were manufactured by “highly-secured” companies, which have been engaged in defence equipment manufacturing too, and a technical expert panel supervises it. Arora said the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), which have been successfully used in the recent state elections, would now be used across the country in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The CEC pointed out that the VVPATs were used in three by-elections in West Bengal — Uluberia, Noapara, and Mahestala — and there was not a single request for recounting.

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