An RTI query filed to the Buldhana district collector office at Maharashtra confirmed that Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) malfunctioned during the elections to the Buldhana Zilla Parishad (BZP) held on 02/16/2017. RTI Activist Anil Galgali said EVM fraud concerns the elections held at BZP from Lonar at a polling station in Sultanpur village.
“Every time the voter pressed the coconut symbol (independent candidate), the Lotus (BJP) LED flashed. As a result, the Returning Officer (RO) reported this to the district collector in his inquiry report and the information was furnished under RTI,” Galgali said.
The aggrieved candidate Asha Arun Zore launched her first complaint with the election officer (EO) at 10 AM that day. But the EO refused to take cognizance. But when complaints started pouring in, after half the votes were over at 1:30 PM, the EO obtained consent from the polling agents of all parties before taking action.
Upon checking the complaints, EO Manikrao Bazaad found substance in them which was reconfirmed by polling station in-charge Ramnarayan Sawant, who then informed the RO, Lonar of the incident.The Assistant RO of Lonar, visited the polling booth and found that while pressing a particular candidate’s button, the lamp for candidate 4 (BJP) used to glow.
Then the election was canceled in that booth after reports from various election officials went to the collector, the polling station sealed, the fraudulent EVM sealed and a standby unit put into operation. However, several parties demanded a repoll which was held on 02/21/2017, the RTI revealed.
“This case conclusively proves an EVM fraud. It was first brought to notice by a voter, confirmed by many other voters, reconfirmed by the RO and other officials and a report sent to the district collector,” RTI activist Anil Galgali said.
Strangely, he said the Election Commission had consistently denied EVM frauds and even called political parties for live demonstrations to prove it.
“In order to avoid such repetitions in the future, the EC must consider alternatives to EVMs, which can be tampered with,” Galgali said.