Why do Faulty EVMs Spell Disaster for Tomorrow?

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There’s surely no need to tell anyone that May 19, 2019 witnessed the final phase of polling in the Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, I am pretty sure that no reader needs to be reminded of how countless EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) were hit by glitches! Instead of harping on the known facts and details that plagued the electoral process, it would serve us better if we consider how the same faults may lead us to darker days.

A Brief Recapitulation

A famous news media establishment has claimed that the EVMs malfunctioned on a scale which was not seen in any of the previous phases. Yes, many booths in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan reported faulty EVMs on May 6, but it didn’t prepare us for what was about to come.

Punjab was, probably, worst hit by the EVM snag. Bengal comes in at the second place with almost 1.56% of the VVPATs in 17,042 booths turning out to be flawed. This happened despite the use of the latest third-generation Mark 3 machines which were first used last year.

Teghoria Shikshayatan High School witnessed an incident where an EVM machine stopped functioning properly. Voters, as old as 80, had to wait for almost 2 hours before the machine was replaced. This is just one example out of numerous that took place yesterday.

It goes without saying that technical shortcomings and instances of violence didn’t really make it a desirable experience for the masses.

Does Anyone Care?

Many amongst us do care. However, the ones who need to be more vigilant are, maybe, a bit too casual. When you think of the fact that this year’s election was supposed to record, probably, the largest number of first-time voters, you will probably pause and rethink the whole situation.

Yes, there will be mistakes, but we need to address those errors promptly. The online edition of The Telegraph quoted that the chief electoral officer was of the opinion that the polling process was “not hampered”. When we come to think of the voters who had left the booths owing to the lack of proper EVMs, we are inevitably led to question his statement.

Many polling stations recorded the first votes an hour and a half after it was slated to begin. Officials claimed that they were not allowed to check the EVMs while receiving them from the distribution centers. Normalizing errors and mismanagement at every level may prove to be a price too dear to pay.

If such faults are not nipped in the bud, they will prove to be harmful in the future. To start with, countless people may not be able to vote at all. There will be others who might not regard the issue with the concern it demands. In short, these instances are detrimental for a democracy. We need to care, unless we wish to go back to the dark ages in the future.

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A literary enthusiast and bibliophile by nature, he is an ardent lover of themes related to politics, modernism and postmodernism. He has a penchant for associating himself with issues that concern the society at large. He nurses dreams of being a flaneur one day and walk in the shoes of Shakti Chattopadhyay, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire!