As 17 opposition parties plan to push for the use of ballot papers in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, former Chief Election Commissioner TS Krishnamurthy today strongly argued against the move, recounting incidents of frauds, violence and booth capturing during the era of the old method.
Returning to the manual system would be a “retrograde step”, he said.
If there are concerns regarding electronic voting machines, they should be addressed by experts to find out whether the operators of EVMs at polling booths or EVMs themselves are at fault, he said.
“It’s unfair to say the machines are not working well,” the former chief election commissioner told PTI.
Seventeen Opposition parties, including the Trinamool Congress, are planning to approach the Election Commission, demanding that ballot papers be used to conduct the general elections next year.
Mr Krishnamurthy said violence, frauds and booth capturing were very common during the era of ballot boxes.
He said many of the Western countries using ballot papers for elections are small.
“Many of the states in the US use EVMs. Brazil is using EVMs very successfully. Some African countries do not have the technology but have shown interest in Indian EVMs,” he said.
He noted that the 17 parties demanding return of ballot papers are in the opposition.
“The ruling party people have never complained, whether it’s Punjab, Karnataka. Always losing parties have been complaining,” Krishnamurthy said, adding, “people in the ruling party (in different states) have equal rights to say EVMs should continue”.
“To say that we should to go back to ballot, I think it’s not only retrograde but probably it’s not good for the country, for democracy,” according to him.
Use of ballot papers in polls means wastage of tons and tons of paper. Invalid votes can be cast under the ballot paper system if you do not put the stamp properly, he said.
“The process of voting and counting would take a lot of time. To say that many countries are using ballot papers and India should do the same is not a valid argument as they are small,” Krishnamurthy argued.
“We have a huge voting population. Indonesia (which uses ballot papers) takes one month to announce the results. You want the same thing to be followed here? In my opinion, it is not an improvement at all,” he added.