Decision comes amid widespread complaints and protests over unauthorised transport of machines
Faced with widespread Opposition allegations of EVM swapping and tampering, the Election Commission on Tuesday announced that an EVM control room (011- 23052123) will be set up at the Nirvachan Sadan for handling any EVM-related complaints till the completion of counting.
The control room will become operative from 11 a.m. on May 22.
Afzal Ansari, BSP candidate from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, had held a sit-in protest along with his supporters outside an EVM strong-room in the constituency on Monday, demanding deployment of five of his representatives outside the storehouses in eight-hour shifts. The issue was resolved after the local administration allowed one representative at each of the strong-rooms in the five Assembly segments, the EC said.
In Chandauli, reserve EVMs and VVPATs were being moved to a strong-room when several Samajwadi Party supporters protested saying the machines used for polling could be tampered with.
Following the protests, representatives of other candidates also gathered at the strong-room and demanded that the machines be sent back. The reserve machines were then stored at a Collectorate office that was sealed.
The District Election Officer however, informed the EC that all the parties had been given advance intimation about the movement of reserve EVMs to the strong-room and all procedures were duly followed.
Again in Uttar Pradesh’s Domariaganj, supporters of various political parties staged a protest against the movement of EVMs on May 14. The local poll officials said they had been kept in reserve. An alleged incident was also reported in Jhansi, where EVMs were found inside a City Magistrate’s vehicle. It turned out that the machines were either kept in reserve or had malfunctioned and were being taken back to the strong-room, said an official.
Responding to the allegations, the EC issued a statement that the visuals circulating in various media platforms did not pertain to any EVMs used during the polls.
“After the close of polls, all polled EVMs and VVPATs are brought under security cover to the designated strong-rooms, which is sealed with double locks, in the presence of the candidates and observers of the Election Commission,” said the Commission, adding that the entire process is videographed. The panel also said continuous CCTV coverage is done till completion of counting.
“Each strong-room is guarded with round-the-clock security by the Central Armed Police Forces…the candidates or their designated agents remain present at the strong-room for 24X7 vigil at all times. On the counting day, the strong-rooms are opened in the presence of the candidates/agents and observers under videography,” it said.
Before counting, agents are shown the address tags, seals and serial numbers of EVMs to confirm that they were used in the actual polls, said the Commission.
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