EC failed to provide substantive response to concerns by INDIA

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has once again written to the Election Commission (EC), asking for a meeting with INDIA bloc parties to discuss issues related to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs).

The letter dated January 7 was sent in response to the poll body’s January 5 public response to his earlier letterin which EC had said that use of EVMs is legal and redirected the opposition parties to an expanded set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the EVMs on the EC website.

“The Election Commission’s response, while completely brushing aside our request for an appointment, has yet again failed to provide a substantive response to our queries and genuine concerns over EVMs. Instead, the Commission has been repeatedly directing us to generic ECI FAQs as the answer book for all queries in respect of EVMs and VVPATs. Yet, when we informed your Commission that our concerns remain unaddressed by the FAQs, your Commission, instead of offering clarification, labelled our queries as based on an “inadequate or incorrect” appreciation of the FAQs and EVM resource material,” Ramesh wrote.

In his letter, Ramesh pointed out that the INDIA parties commanded more than 60% of the popular vote in the 2019 general elections. “Yet the Commission continues to deny these parties an opportunity to meet with it. This is most unfortunate and to put it very mildly, unprecedented,” he wrote.

The 28-party INDIA bloc had submitted a memorandum to the poll panel on August 9, 2023 raising questions over the use of EVMs and VVPATs. The bloc followed it up with four letters in the same month to meet with the EC. On December 30, Ramesh also sent a letter on the issue and sought a meeting.