THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Instead of the Sabarimala issue, the sweltering heat would be the bigger concern for the Election Commission during this election. The summer heat and humidity may cause glitches in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)/ Voter Verifiable Paper Audit (VVPAT) machines thereby increasing the average failure rate, according to Teeka Ram Meena, Chief Electoral Officer, Kerala.
“Humidity is a big problem. But it won’t affect the elections since we will have a reserve stock which would be 35 per cent of the total number of machines deployed,” he said. Meena said the average failure rate of voting machines in Kerala during the testing was about 6 pc as against the national average of 2-3 pc.
“Mishandling of the machine by the officers was the main reason. Most of them did not customise the paper roll used for printing,” he said.
According to the Chief Electoral Officer, the design features and administrative safeguards give little or no scope for tampering of the EVM and VVPATs. The EVM is a stand-alone machine and no radio frequency transmission or reception is possible. The machine has a one-time programmable chip which makes its impossible for the software burnt on the chip to be modified or erased. Dynamic coding of key press and real-time clock are other safety features, he said.
Rumour-mongers watch out!
Meena warned against spreading rumours and fake news on voting machines. A voter can lodge a complaint with the returning officer if the slip generated in the VVPAT is not that of the candidate of his choice. “In that case, the voter should cast a test vote in the presence of the presiding officer and party representatives. If the claim is true, all machines in the booth will be replaced,” he said. According to Meena, action under Section 177 of the IPC will be taken. The penalty is six months’ jail plus D1,000 fine.