Herald: Glitches in EVMS, VVPATS hamper many polling booths

Glitches in EVMS, VVPATS hamper many polling booths

24 Apr 2019 06:32am IST
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24 Apr 2019 06:32am IST
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As per the reports available from Election office, total 11 Control Unit (CU), 11 ballot unit (BU) and 35 VVPAT were replaced during the polling process

Team Herald

PANJIM: Even as polling for two Parliamentary constituencies and three assembly segments in Goa was held on a peaceful note, glitches in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) was reported in many polling booths resulting in initial voting hiccups. Perhaps, for the very first time during any election process in the State, such high numbers of complaints with regards to technical snags in the voting machines were reported. 

The polling for two Lok Sabha seats- North Goa Parliamentary constituency and South Goa Parliamentary constituency and three by-elections- Mandrem, Shiroda and Mapusa assembly seat had begun at 7.00am across 1652 polling booths. However, complaints from election officers, voters and candidates started to pour in from various booths thus delaying or holding up voting process initially. 

The machines at polling booths at St Cruz (PB-35), Mayem (PB-6), Harvalem, Nerul (PB-35), Corlim (PB-28), Siolim (PB-14 and 9), Mapusa (PB- 12 and 18), Betul, Avdeam (Quepem), Agassaim (PB-26), Taleigao (PB-10), Panjim (PB-29) Cuncolim (PB-31), Taleigao- Dona Paula (PB-16), Mandrem (PB- 28, 44, 9, 10 and 17), Sawantwada-Canacona   had to be replaced or rectified following complaints. 

As per the reports available from Election office, total 11 Control Unit (CU), 11 ballot unit (BU) and 35 VVPAT were replaced during the polling process. 

The complaints including non pressing of some buttons belonging to a particular party or vote registered on the VVPAT recording only in the name of BJP’s election symbol, or complete non-functioning of EVMs or breakdown after first vote. 

The voters were also found complaining about slow voting process due to non-trained polling staffers. It was also reported that some staffers were also not able to handle the technical issue with the machines, when brought to their notice. 

“Though there were reports from some booths about glitches in EVMs or VVPATs, they have been rectified or replaced immediately. The polling process in those booths was extended,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Narayan Sawant said. 

Total 2000 EVMs and VVPAT were available for State polling. Apart from 1652 polling stations having one EVMs and VVPATs, there were 20 percent spare machines. Also, in by-poll constituencies, one extra machine each was deployed. 

The Congress party and Aam Aadmi Party has already filed complaints with the Election authorities pointing to the technical snags in the EVM and VVPAT machines. 

 “The EVM button was not getting pressed. Probably, they were not connected properly. It was brought to the notice of the election officer, who had to then halt the polling process,” a voter from St Cruz Assembly constituency said. 

In Corlim-Old Goa, the election officers’ infact refused to even explain to the voters, who were standing in queue as why there was delay to begin voting. After much debate, they finally informed about non-functioning of the machines. 

The worst case was reported in Toleabhat polling booth in Cuncolim, after AAP South Goa candidate Elvis Gomes brought to the notice of the authorities after majority votes were being allocated to BJP candidates in the mock polling exercise. 

“In the mock poll with 9 votes for each of six candidates in booth No 31, the total count gave BJP 17, Congress 9, AAP 8 and One to Independent. The mock poll should have shown nine votes for each of the candidates,” Gomes said. 

Reacting to the allegations CEO Goa replaced the entire set of EVMs at the booth. “Entire set of EVM has been replaced for AC 34, PS No 31 as per report from DEO South Goa,” said CEO Goa.

Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar also expressed concern over problem in EVMs at Quepem assembly segments. “The machines have reported fault as the votes were found to be getting registered for BJP, even after pressing other party buttons. I will be filing a complaint with Election Commission. This is a foul play by BJP,” he said.

The Congress party in the complaint filed before North Goa returning officer, pointed out that the voting machines in Siolim booths were malfunctioning and that the votes were shown in favour of BJP irrespective of who the electors are casting the votes. The complaint was filed by Congress vice president Altinho Gomes. Following chaos that was observed at   the Sodiem - Siolim polling booth, the ECI officials changed the EVM machine and said the problem was due to a technical fault. The voters who had cast their votes were allowed to recast them using the new machines.
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