New Delhi: Just a day after 13 crucial bypolls ahead of the 2019 General Elections were marred by VVPAT glitches and allegations of EVM malfunctioning, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat has said that the Commission has devised a strategy to counter such “errors” by “training the polling staff and the district and state level training masters”.
CEC also stated that “there was no EVM malfunctioning” and all VVPAT errors were due to the new machines handled by “not adequately trained polling staff”.
Four Lok Sabha seats and nine Assembly constituencies went for by polls on Monday across 10 states and this time, too, the Election Commission received complaints of EVM malfunctioning.
CEC, while dismissing any malfunctioning of EVMs, pointed out how the Commission is focusing more on “maintenance” of machines and “training of staff” to avoid such “errors.”
“After the hiccups in the latest bypoll, the Commission has drawn a strategy to counter it. We have trained the state level master trainers. We will now train district level master trainers and all this will be done to reduce the number of man-made complaints. These are new machines and wherever new machines are used, due to lack of training and lack of maintenance, there are some errors in such situations,” said the CEC.
CEC has also blamed the VVPAT glitches on the sensors placed on new machines which tend to not work properly when under heat and sunlight.
“VVPAT was being used for the first time. There was training given and in spite of that there were some errors. There are sensors in these machines which often get affected by light and heat and since these are newly manufactured, some errors creep in. We had a stock of only 20,000 VVPAT machines, so on one hand these are new machines, and on the other hand training of polling staff has also been for the first time,” said the CEC who also stated that earlier these machines were used only on pilot basis.
Rawat maintained that when the VVPAT was introduced on pilot basis in Punjab, “failure rates were so high that the Commission thought that at least 50% reserved machines will be kept”.
However, countering the allegation of “mass EVM malfunctioning”, the CEC stated that Monday’s bypoll glitch was usual.
“EVM Ballot units failure rate has been 0.75%, CU's failure rate was 0.81%, and VVPAT failure rate was around 11%. Earlier, when it was used on pilot basis in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Nagaland, etc has seen a failure rate of 8% to 10%,” said the CEC.
The EVM-related complaints also came from UP's Noorpur Assembly seat, which has become another high-stake election in the state after a shock defeat suffered by the BJP during the earlier by-elections for Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats -- the first vacated by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Polling for Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia LS seats in Maharashtra was also marred by instances of alleged malfunctioning of EVMs and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs).