With political parties demanding the use of ballot papers instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in elections, Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat on Monday said it takes stakeholders' views very seriously and will try to address the issues comprehensively.
Rawat further said, exclusively to ANI, that Indian EVMs are unique in the world.
"Our EVMs are unique. It is standalone and has no connection to the outside world. It doesn't have an auxiliary circuit; it is not capable of talking to other machines on wireless. It doesn't have a wire system. This kind of EVM is not used anywhere in the world. It is our own innovation," added Rawat.
The CEC's observation has come after the Congress party, at its plenary session, joined the chorus against the EVMs and in favour of the ballot papers.
Explaining the difficulties in bringing back the ballot paper system, Rawat said, "Replacement of ballot papers by the EVMs has resulted in many improvements. The role of muscle power has diminished considerably. Filling of votes is possible if ballot box is there. In EVM, loading one vote requires 15 seconds. Say if at one polling booth, 800-2000 votes are to be loaded, then it would require a considerable time, which would be enough for an enforcement to reach to catch hold of the miscreants. Therefore, the misuse of muscle power in affecting the polling outcome has reduced considerably."
Commenting on a video from Russia where election officials were allegedly seen filling up the ballot boxes, Rawat said, "Ballot boxes have never been secure. They are never secure."
Replying another question, the CEC said, "The EC doesn't have to defend EVMs. We are creating a lot of public awareness on it. In one programme, when a political leader launched a tirade against the EVMs, then the public shouted him down. What do you understand by that?"
When asked how the growing chorus against the EVMs will affect democracy, Rawat said, "Democracy is a too strong system that trivial matters cannot affect it. Only thing is that the Election Commission looks into all grievances of stakeholders and tries to address all those in a positive way. For example, in the all-party meeting, we (EC) were advised that unless 100 per cent deployment of VVPATs is there, the election should be held with the ballot paper. The Commission immediately deployed 100 per cent VVPATs."
He added that nobody can control the complaints and if the complaints are controlled then it will affect democracy.
"Grievances should be brought to the notice of the Commission so that it takes note of it. Because, our system is for the majority; the majority of the people and majority of the political parties should be happy with the system," Rawat said.
He said that those who cast doubts on the EVMs should come forward and suggest what will clear their doubt.
"They should come forward and tell us what will clear their doubt. Or, are they determined to go back to the muscle power and booth capturing. It is up to them," Rawat said.