While it appears that the latest controversy over the electronic ballot machine in Assam has actually been caused mainly due to a procedural lapse on part of the ballot staff, the effect and effects are deeply political and draw examination to the poll panel and its procedures.
It is, nevertheless, not the first time that the EVM and the Election Commission of India have actually come under a cloud due to poor adherence to the latter’s intricate rulebook on the ground.Hit by a series of occurrences including “irresponsible behaviour” on part of polling personnel in the 2018 assembly elections, the EC needed to revamp its instructions and handbooks with an unique focus on the EVM-VVPAT transfer, transportation and storage. It is in fact a violation of this 2019 rulebook that has actually resulted in full-blown political fracas amid the Assam elections. After their automobile broke down, the ballot staff transferred an EVM used in the poll in an unidentified vehicle that later on ended up being owned by a BJP candidate of a neighbouring constituency.EC swung into troubleshooting by buying a repoll and suspending four authorities, but there is no stopping the controversy from snowballing. Incidentally, the ECI had actually modified its rulebooks in 2019 after coming under a comparable onslaught. Incidents from keeping EVMs at hotels, police stations and in one case at a BJP MLA’s home to a machine that was discovered abandoned on a highway had actually drawn strong political reaction and questions about the sanctity of the electoral process and the EVMVVPAT equipment.Factor this: On November 27, 2018, four officials looked into a hotel with EVMs for the Shujalpur seat of Madhya Pradesh. On November 30 in the very same year, complaints trickled in fromconstituency over the transportation of EVMs in four cars of which one had no number plate. In Chhattisgarh, a polling officer took the EVM house with him at lunch since he could not find anyone to ensure its safe custody.In Pandhana constituency, six officers were served show-cause notifications after reports occurred of ballot personnel failing to deposit EVMs on time and keeping them in a police headquarters. In Rajasthan, one reserve EVM was supposedly required to a BJP MLA’s house by a duty staffer in Pali constituency, while another was found deserted on December 8 on a highway off Shahbad locations in Kishnaganj assembly constituency, after it fell off the lorry transporting the set.