Mumbai: Chief Election Commissioner on Wednesday rejected the use of ballot papers in the upcoming Assembly elections in Maharashtra. While defending the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said, “Ballot papers are history and will not be used in the upcoming Assembly elections of Maharashtra. EVMs cannot be tampered.”
He reviewed the poll preparedness in the state. Responding to demands by the Shiv Sena and the NCP about raising the poll expenditure limit, Mr Arora said, “The Assembly poll expenditure limit of candidates cannot be changed for now. The current expenditure limit of a candidate in Assembly election is ₹28 lakhs.”
Opposition parties such as Congress and the NCP had raised questions on EVMs saying that it can be tampered easily and thus had demanded that election be conducted using the ballot paper system. Mr Arora said, “Parties keep raising the issue of EVMs. We have told them politely and firmly that ballot paper is history now. And I can tell all of you, all of us can tell you looking into your eyes, that EVM cannot be, I repeat, cannot be tampered with.”
“It can malfunction like any other machine, like your watch or your vehicle. But it cannot be tampered with, it is a standalone machine, different from other machines. Even the Supreme Court, in its rulings on the issues relating to EVMs, has kind of upheld this,” he added.
Central armed forces would be deployed in the Left wing extremist affected areas of the state for free and fair elections.
Arora said that various factors have been taken into consideration before preparing the poll schedule such as holidays and schools, exams of children, important festivals etc.
The Commission will also make efforts to increase voting percentage in the ensuing Assembly elections. Voters slip distribution will be started early enough.
The CEC said that during their visit to Maharashtra, the election commissioners on Wednesday interacted with political parties, district administration and central regulatory bodies, chief secretary, DGP and other senior officials to review preparations for the Assembly polls.