MEERUT: Voters at a polling booth in Meerut erupted in loud protests that went on for most part of the day after one of them discovered that an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was recording votes only for BJP, irrespective of the button that was being pressed. The first phase of civic polls in UP, eight months after BJP won the assembly elections, began in the state on Wednesday.
Although officials replaced the “faulty” machine, claiming it was a “malfunction”, non-BJP parties alleged that machines had been tampered with.

City additional district magistrate Mukesh Kumar said, “We replaced the machine, which was malfunctioning, immediately.”

A video of a voter trying unsuccessfully to cast his vote for the candidate of his choice turned up online soon, leaving officials scrambling to solve the problem. In the video, the voter, Tasleem Ahmad, can be seen trying to vote for BSP.

“I voted for the BSP candidate. I am still holding the pressed button. The machine has recorded my vote as having gone to BJP. I have been waiting here for an hour, but no solution has been provided so far,” Ahmad can be heard saying in the video.

An EVM, after recording a vote, is immediately locked, so that the voter can’t choose a different option. The machine is unlocked only for the next voter. On hearing of the matter, BSP supporters and members of other parties descended on the polling booth and created a commotion, after which senior officials arrived.

Yogesh Verma, formed BSP MLA, said, “The area in which this problem occurred is dominated by the minority community, and we have a strong presence here. Although officials immediately replaced the machine, it is really disturbing to note that all votes were going to BJP.”

Divisional commissioner of Meerut zone, Prabhat Kumar, said, “I got information about the incident, where the vote was going to a specific party, but the Election Commission had already stated months ago that these EVMs cannot be tampered with. It could have been a result of some technical fault and the machine was immediately replaced. Voting continued peacefully after that.”

Soon after the UP assembly polls in March, in which BJP got an unprecedented mandate of 325 seats out of 403, opposition parties levelled serious charges of EVM tampering, so much so that Election Commission had to eventually defend the machines.

Problems with EVMs were reported from Agra as well. At booth no. 69 in Gautam Nagar, voters alleged whichever button was being pressed, the vote was going to BJP. Voters at several polling booths found the machines for recording votes for the mayor’s post were not working, after which the machines had to be repaired. Voting was delayed by more than 30 minutes.