In a statement issued to media, the election commission said it would like to emphatically and unambiguously clarify that all such reports and allegations are absolutely false and factually incorrect
New Delhi: Election commission has come out supporting the safety of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) like never before. In a strong statement issued to media the EC stated "certain complaints of alleged movement of EVMs, purportedly to replace the polled EVMs in the strongrooms, have been doing the rounds in sections of media". The commission said " Election Commission of India would like to emphatically and unambiguously clarify that all such reports and allegations are absolutely false and factually incorrect. The visuals seen viral on media do not pertain to any EVMs used during the polls".
Clarified on rules related to transportation
Clarifying over the rules and regulations towards transportation and storage of EVMs the commission informed that after the close of polls, all polled EVMs and VVPATs are brought under security cover to the designated strongrooms, which is sealed with double locks, in the presence of the candidates and in the presence of Observers of the Election Commission. The entire process of storage and sealing of the strongroom is covered under videography. Continuous CCTV coverage is done until the completion of counting. Each strongroom is guarded with round-the-clock security by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). Further, the candidates or their designated agents remain present at the strongroom for a 24X7 vigil at all times.
'All measures are taken to ensure safety'
The election commission gave a detailed picture from the movement and storage of EVMs to the day of counting. It said "on the counting day, the strongrooms are opened in the presence of the candidates/agents and Observer under videography. Before the counting of EVMs commences, the counting agents are shown the address tags, seals and a serial number of the EVMs to satisfy themselves to the genuineness and authenticity of the machines used in the actual polls".
"As can be appreciated, the detailed administrative protocols, security framework and procedural guidelines mandated by the Commission completely foreclose and pre-empt the possibility of any mischief or manipulation in the polled EVMs and VVPATs stored in the designated strongrooms under the 24X7 watch of the CAPF as well as the candidates."-EC
It also said that all the provisions and protocols have been explained to the political parties on multiple occasions including in several of the 93 meetings held with them at the Commission since the announcement of elections. All Chief Electoral Officers and District Election Officers have again been advised to brief the candidates on the elaborate counting arrangements.
Reiterating on the safety of EVMs and VVPATs the commission said "As can be appreciated, the detailed administrative protocols, security framework and procedural guidelines mandated by the Commission completely foreclose and pre-empt the possibility of any mischief or manipulation in the polled EVMs and VVPATs stored in the designated strongrooms under the 24X7 watch of the CAPF as well as the candidates."
There is an EVM control room with a helpline
About the video clips that are being circulated in social media and WhatsApp about 'replacement' of EVMs the commission said "The aspersions in clips being used in media merely pertain to the storage or movement of Reserve unused EVMs. However, any case of lapse even in the handling of Reserve EVMs is thoroughly investigated and disciplinary action taken against the officers responsible".
The EC informed that An EVM Control Room 011- 23052123 has also been put in place that will function at Nirvachan Sadan for handling any EVM related complaints till the completion of counting. This will become operative from 11 am on May 22, 2019.