EVMs give extra votes to BJP's lotus during mock polls in Kasaragod, claim LDF & UDF agents

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Kasaragod: At least four electronic voting machines (EVM) erroneously registered votes in favour of BJP during mock polling in Kasaragod on Wednesday, April 17, alleged agents of LDF and UDF candidates.

Kasaragod Lok Sabha constituency's LDF candidate and CPM leader M V Balakrishnan filed a complaint with District Collector Inbasekar K, designated as the District Election Officer, to look into the errors.

UDF candidate Rajmohan Unnithan's agent Muhammed Nasar Cherkalam Abdulla urged the assistant returning officer (ARO) in Kasaragod Lok Sabha constituency to change the erring machines. BJP's M L Ashwini is the NDA candidate in Kasaragod.

Nasar Cherkalam said the BJP's lotus was getting extra votes during the commissioning of the machines for the polling stations in Kasaragod Assembly Constituency. He also pointed out that the Congress's 'hand' symbol was smaller than other symbols on the voting machines and asked the officials to change it.

Kasaragod Lok Sabha constituency's voting machines have 10 options, including NOTA (none of the above).

In the first round of mock polls, all 190 EVMs were tested by casting votes against each of the 10 options. BJP's lotus was the first option.

The officials tested 20 machines at a time. When all 10 options on the EVMs were pressed one time each, the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) gave two votes to the BJP in four machines.

When the BJP's lotus was not pressed, the same four erroneous VVPAT units gave one vote to the party, said Nasar Cherkalam. "When we raised the issue, the assistant returning Officer said the VVPAT slips with erroneous votes had the message 'not to be counted'," said Unnithan's election agent.

But if there is a dispute during counting, the BJP's agents would insist on counting these erroneous votes, said Nasar Cherkalam. "That's why we asked for the replacement of these machines," he said.

He said the errors automatically disappeared when the EVMs were tested for the third time. "But we cannot be sure that the errors would reappear in the fourth or fifth test," he said.

"However, what we found strange was that neither the CPM's hammer, sickle and star symbol nor the Congress's hand symbol got extra votes during the mock trial. Only BJP's lotus got extra votes," said Nasar Cherkalam.

'Report submitted to collector'
Assistant Returning Officer Binumon P said that the glitch happened in four machines when the power was turned on. In all machines, the first VVPAT slip would have the message 'not to be counted'. But in these four machines, the slips also had the party symbol of the first candidate in the voting machine, he said. "The technical engineers said it was not a mistake. I have given a report to the Collector," said Binumon.

UDF and LDF agents said the lotus symbol stopped appearing in the third round of test. In the next round, 1,000 votes were cast on the machines that showed error in the first two rounds. "They worked fine in the third round," said Nasar Cherkalam.

Kasaragod Assembly constituency has 190 booths for the Lok Sabha election. In all 228 Ballot units, 228 control units and 247 VVPAT units were tested during the mock polling which started at 10 am on Wednesday and ended at 1 am on Thursday. Of the 228 machines, six machines had technical glitches. They were kept aside for engineers to fix.

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