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Congress Urges EC to Relax Rules For EVM Challenge

The Congress on Friday urged the Election Commission to relax the three rules of the EVM challenge that prevents challengers from conducting a thorough test on the machines and said "their inclusion undermines the credibility of the initiative".

PTI

Updated:May 26, 2017, 9:42 PM IST
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Congress Urges EC to Relax Rules For EVM Challenge
Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi along with Election Commissioner AK Joti demonstrating the working of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail System (VVPATs). (File photo/PTI)

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday urged the Election Commission to relax the three rules of the EVM challenge that prevents challengers from conducting a thorough test on the machines and said "their inclusion undermines the credibility of the initiative".

In a letter to the chief election commissioner, AICC communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said in the party's opinion this challenge must be "fair, transparent and unambiguous in terms of scope, scales and rules".

He noted that the extensive terms and conditions of this challenge unfortunately prevents challengers to conduct a thorough test of the electronic voting machines.

"We urge you to reconsider relaxing the three rules of the challenge as their inclusion undermines the credibility of their initiative," he said in his letter.

He said the rules imposed by the EC say that the challenger will only be provided access to the control units and the ballot units.

The Election Commission will organise an EVM hackathon from June 3 but he said the rules were a "barrier to a thorough test" and asked the EC to have a relook at the rules.

Only one party has accepted the challenge till today which happened to be the last day for registering with the EC to take the challenge.

The Congress along with some opposition parties has been at the forefront of opposing EVMs and demanded that the poll body returns to the ballot system in all future elections. The Congress sought relaxation of the conditions that challengers would get access only to the control unit (CU) and ballot unit (BU) of an EVM, that challengers would be allowed only to press buttons; and tampering would be demonstrated only when EVMs are in strong rooms or counting booths.

"The EVM is composed of more components, apart from the CU and BU. If challengers don't have access to all the components, such as motherboard, how will they demonstrate their concerns?" asked the Congress leader.

He observed that a "fair challenge" will send a strong signal to the people about the credibility of EVMs. Surjewala urged the commission to revise the conditions. The EC had in May announced the EVM challenge from June 3 to prove that its EVMs cannot be tampered with or hacked.

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