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Missing EVMs beep an alarm

Last updated: 09 December, 2010
J B S Umanadh Hyderabad, Dec 8, DHNS: 0:34 IST

Democracy in dumps

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) may be tamper proof, as the Election Commission has reiterated, but they are apparently not theft proof.

The recent recovery of some EVMs from a scrap dealer at Vijayawada strengthens fears about the efficacy and safety of polling machines. It also corroborates a campaign launched by political parties and certain NGOs in Andhra Pradesh, which estimate that an astounding 4,000 EVMs have gone unaccounted since the 2004 parliamentary elections.

It was only after political parties started complaining about the misuse of EVMs and some NGOs demonstrated the vulnerability of EVMs that the state Election Commission began verifying their stock register. The commission noticed that an additional 4,000 EVMs were missing.

For many days, the authorities failed to notice the theft of EVMs from the store room of Krishna district sub-collectorate at Vijayawada.

Confusion reigned supreme when two separate complaints from the offices of the joint collector and the sub collector mentioned the number of missing machines at 28 and 25 respectively.

“No one knows exactly how many EVMs were stored and how many stolen,” an official said. District Joint Collector Gourav Uppal’s office, the repository of the machines, has no records.

The police detained some rag pickers on suspicion which led them to a scrap dealer in the Singh Nagar area of Vijayawada town where they recovered the broken parts of a few EVMs. Suryaraopet police inspector R J Jayaraj said some unidentified persons stole the EVMs by breaking open the window grill of the room, where the machines were stored.

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