Malfunctioning EVMs leave voters frustrated

Malfunctioning EVMs leave voters frustrated

People waiting cast vote for poling station 33, Shanthi nagar legislative assembly constituency election, there is VVPAT is not working at Dr Ambedkar First Grade College at Indiranagar in Bengaluru on Saturday. Officials replacing VVPAT. Photo by S K Din

Voting turned out to be agonising and frustrating for many across the city during Saturday’s polling as the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) malfunctioned in several booths.

While voting was disrupted in some places, the process was deferred to Monday in Lottegollahalli under Hebbal constituency. This means voters have to revisit the booth on a working day.

In fact, not a single vote was cast in Lottegollahalli till 4 pm on Saturday. Voters had to wait in the hot sun until the fault was rectified.

But voters in ward 2 complained that the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine –which prints the voter’s choice for confirmation— reflected names other than the ones they chose.

Following complaints from the voters, election officials in the booth suspended polling as they could not resolve the issue.

Hebbal constituency’s returning officer Narasimhappa clarified that the officials do not have a choice to replace the machines in the middle of the polling process.

“We held mock elections prior to the polling hours to check if everything was going
fine. But we don’t have the choice to replace the machines,” he said.

The VVPAT machines here also jammed once in five minutes. So, the polling officials were left with no other choice but to suspend the process, disappointing many young voters who eagerly waited in the queue.

The Election Commission later deferred polling in Lottegollahalli to Monday, May 14 under the Representation of People Act, 1951 . Polling will take place between 7 am and 6 pm at Gandhi Vidyalaya, Kannada and Tamil Primary School in Lottegollahalli.

Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar said since 44 people had already cast their votes, a decision was made to completely change the voting process. He also said the alternative finger for inking is still to be identified.

The technical report obtained from BEL engineers at Hebbal constituency revealed that button number 9 in the voting machine was accepting votes on its own, the VVPAT was printing the ballot slip for that serial number and control unit was recording the vote.

The engineers ruled out cross-voting, calling it a purely technical issue with the ballot machine, while the VVPAT and  the control unit had no problems.

EVM glitches also disrupted polling in other constituencies like Yeshwantpur, Shantinagar, Pulakeshinagar, Anekal, Bangalore South, and New Thippasandra that falls under CV Raman Nagar.

In Govindarajanagar and Vijayanagar constituencies, nearly 200 votes were not registered despite the pressing of the buttons in the EVM. Polling was also disrupted for an hour and a half in Moulana Azad Model School at Weaver’s Colony in Anekal constituency, where voters were seen heading home.

Voting was delayed for nearly an hour in Nithyananda Swamy High School polling centre at Jigani as polling officials came late. A mere 38 votes were cast here until 10 am.

Waiting seemed inordinate for voters at Ambedkar College booth falling under Shantinagar constituency as the VVPAT machine here did not print their votes.

“The Election Commission officers should have a back-up machine for immediate replacement in situations like this,” said Anil GR, a resident of Indiranagar. However, the issue was resolved in 45 minutes.

Agitated voters riled at officials in booth number 198 in Yeshwantpur constituency as voting did not start until 9.15 am.

Revathi, a cook who was stranded for more than an hour due to the faulty machine, said she would be late to supply afternoon meals to her customers.

Geetha Belliappa, a voter in Shivajinagar, showed up at the booth at 7 am intending to cast her vote early. But she found the EVM out of order. “This’s frustrating. We’ve been waiting here for an hour,” she said.