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Indian Election Office Slams Losing Parties' Claims About Rigged Voting Machines

© AP Photo / Prabhjot GillElection officials examine Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) on the eve of Punjab state elections at a distribution centre in Amritsar, India, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017
Election officials examine Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) on the eve of Punjab state elections at a distribution centre in Amritsar, India, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 - Sputnik International
Parties that fared badly against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP in state polls have alleged that voting machines have been rigged and tampered with.

Indian voters wait in a queue for their turn to vote at a polling station in the Naini area on the outskirts of Allahabad during the fourth phase of Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections on February 23, 2017 - Sputnik International
Wild Donkey in the Middle of Political Row in Crucial State Elections in India
New Delhi (Sputnik) India’s Election Commission rejected allegations of rigging through the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) raised by opposition leaders following their loss in the recent state polls, particularly in Uttar Pradesh state where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party won a landslide victory.

Amid the growing chorus among opposition leaders to reintroduce paper ballots, the Election Commission of India (ECI) reiterated its faith in the use of EVMs in an official statement on Thursday.

"The ECI unequivocally reiterates that given effective technical and administrative safeguards, EVMs are not tamperable and integrity of the electoral process is preserved… It may be stated that such allegations and suspicions have not been raised for the first time. Even on earlier occasions, the Commission has offered opportunities more than once to those alleging the tamperability of EVM, no one has been able to demonstrate to the Commission that the EVM with ECI and used in the country's election process, can be manipulated or tampered with,” said the ECI statement.

Modi’s BJP won over 300 seats in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, reducing other parties to less than 50 seats. Exit polls or pre-poll surveys couldn't predict the scale of victory, prompting the allegations from defeated parties.

Mayawati, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party, was the first to target EVMs. She has been joined by Delhi state chief minister Arvind Kejriwal whose Aam Aadmi Party contested state polls in Punjab. The Congress party too is demanding greater transparency.

The blame-game has come despite independent international observers, including Russian Election Commission member Nikolai Levichev, giving a thumbs-up to the process.

"We have seen by our own eyes the mass scale of electoral operation, the enormous number of people involved in each stage of preparation in the conduct of polling which is supplemented by a large number of observers appointed by the different political parties and candidates. That provides conformity of the transparency of the election procedure and mass involvement of people in the accomplishment of the procedure. As well the attendance by the voters at the polling stations was very hectic which marks the keen interests of the voters to come and vote,” Levichev, who had visited Uttarakhand state during the elections, had told Sputnik earlier.

"These machines are fully tamper-proof as a combination of safeguards is used. But controversies about EVMs keep cropping up. Every political party has questioned the EVMs at one point or another. When they win with the same machines, they just keep quiet instead of publicly apologizing and eating their words," SY Quraishi, India's former Chief Election Commissioner, told Sputnik.

Quraishi agrees that "the Supreme Court's suggestion of putting paper trails in place, a demand raised in the ongoing controversy, must be implemented by the Narendra Modi government" to enhance faith and greater transparency in the EVMs.

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