BSP Supremo Mayawati has alleged that EVMs were manipulated in the UP elections. But in 20 constituencies of UP where an additional transparency measure like the VVPAT was used, the BJP has done much better than in the rest of the state like it did in the previous two elections.
In response to the allegations made by the BSP supremo Mayawati about the possible manipulation of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the Election Commission of India (ECI) put out a detailed note about the issue. Among other things, the note talks about the technical security of EVMs and concludes that there is no merit in the allegations that EVMs can be manipulated.
Allegations on EVMs are not new
The allegations over the credibility of EVMs is not new. Multiple cases have been filed by various parties and individuals in High Courts and the Supreme Court. In fact, there was a group of people who came together to expose the vulnerability of EVMs about 8 years ago. A book was also written about the alleged security flaws in EVMs by GVL Narasimha Rao, who is currently a spokesperson of the BJP. Incidentally, the foreword of this book was written by L K Advani. The book also has a message from N Chandrababu Naidu, the president of the TDP.
Towards using VVPAT units with all EVMs
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Subramanian Swamy also filed a case in the Supreme Court on the issue of EVMs. The SC in its verdict had directed the ECI to gradually move towards the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system and also directed the government to provide the required financial assistance for procurement of VVPAT units for EVMs. VVPAT adds an additional layer of transparency where the voter can see a print out his voting choice once the button is pressed on the EVM.
Where were VVPAT units used in UP?
The ECI in its notification for the 5 state elections announced that VVPAT units will be used in 76 assembly constituencies across the 5 states covering 11514 polling stations. VVPAT units were used in all 40 the constituencies of Goa, 4 in Uttarakhand , 20 in Uttar Pradesh, 4 in Manipur and 8 in Punjab.
In Uttar Pradesh, VVPAT units were used in the following 20 constituencies in the 2017 assembly elections.
|Agra Cantt||Allahabad North|
|Agra South||Allahabad South|
|Govind Nagar||Jhansi Nagar|
|Arya Nagar||Lucknow West|
|Moradabad Nagar||Varanasi North|
|Saharanpur Nagar||Varanasi Cantt|
Profile of these 20 Constituencies
These 20 constituencies are traditional BJP strongholds. Even in the 2012 assembly elections where the BJP won only 47 seats across the state, it had won 11 out of these 20 seats. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP swept these assembly segments winning all 20. In the 2017 assembly election, the BJP won 17 of these seats and the SP won the remaining 3.
What about the vote share?
The BJP’s vote share in these 20 constituencies was around 32% in 2012, which increased to 55% in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In 2017, BJP’s vote share slightly decreased to 49.8%. BJP’s vote share in these 20 constituencies was always higher than its overall vote share in the state of UP. In 2012, the BJP’s vote share in the whole of UP was 15%, less than half its vote share in these 20 constituencies. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, its vote share in these 20 constituencies was 13% more than its vote share in the state. This trend continued in 2017 also where its vote share in these 20 constituencies was 10% more than its vote share in the state.
The BSP’s vote share in these 20 constituencies on the other hand decreased from 19.47% in 2012 to 13.95% in 2017. The combined vote share of SP & the Congress in these constituencies in 2017 was almost 33%, around 5% more than their combined vote share in the state.
What does it mean?
VVPAT adds an additional layer of transparency to the EVMs. Hence the results in these 20 constituencies should set the tone for the overall trends. In these 20 constituencies where the VVPAT units were used in 2017, the BJP as usual has done much better than its overall performance in the state. There is nothing unusual about the results in these 20 constituencies meaning the allegations about manipulation of EVMs may be unfounded.