The #CountEveryVote or #HarVoteKoGino campaign was launched on May 7 at the Indian Women Press Corps in New Delhi to demand a 100% counting of the Voter Verification Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips and to oppose Rule 49 MA of the Conduct of Elections (Amendment) 2013 Rules – that seeks to penalise the voter in case of a false complaint.
Prominent social activists like Syeda Hameed, Kavita Srivastava, Nikhil Dey, Gauhar Raza and Sanjay Parikh spoke at the press conference held following the launch. Panellists said that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have been known for being easy to tamper with and faulty, therefore, VVPAT machines were introduced with the objective of increasing transparency and credibility of the voting process and to increase voter confidence.
“However, according to the Election Commission, only 2.5% of the slips will be counted, which we consider to be unacceptable,” said Kavita Srivastava, general secretary, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). “This, we consider, to be a violation because it does not aid the transparency process. Every vote should be counted, verified and considered valuable. Our campaign demands for 100% counting of all VVPAT slips,” she further explained.
The panellists said that in the past few weeks, many cases of VVPAT slips not being in tune with the voters’ choice have surfaced. Furthermore, if a citizen files a formal complaint with the Election Commission of India regarding the malfunctioning of the VVPAT slip and the test trial to verify the complaint fails in substantiating the voter’s claim, the citizen can be jailed and fined under Section 49MA of Conduct of Elections (Amendment) 2013 Rules. “We believe that this deters citizens to report any and all VVPAT-related malfunctions,” said activist Nikhil Dey.
With the Supreme Court of India dismissing the plea of 21 political parties demanding counting 50% VVPAT slips, Dey said, “Why we have raised this demand is because with the EVMs, paper ballots have been done away with and regardless of the EVMs being tampered or not, there should be some accountability for the voters’ votes. There should be counting of 100% VVPAT slips. This is beyond the question of EVM tampering. It’s about the voters’ right to vote and its accountability.”
He further said that with this campaign, they will reach out to as many organisations, intellectuals, political parties and the voters and meet the Chief Election Commissioner to make the campaign operational before the counting of the 2019 Lok Sabha ballots. Dey also said, “Despite asking, no official has been able to explain why such counting cannot take place even if they don’t personally agree with the need for it. Given the importance of this question, we are determined to launch and build the campaign to the best of our abilities.”
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