The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday said 33 ballot units of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) accounting for just 0.1% of the 26,269 being used were replaced after they malfunctioned in the first three hours of voting for the first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections.
It said mock polling was held to check the balloting process before the actual voting began at 8am. “During this poll, 140 EVM ballot units, 372 control units, and 332 Voters Verification Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) [machines] had to be replaced…during the actual poll process, 33 ballot units, 29 control units, and 69 VVPAT had to be replaced during the first three hours.”
The Congress earlier said around 50 EVMs malfunctioned and were not replaced in time and that some TV channels were allegedly influencing voters in favour of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Alok Sharma, the Congress’s Gujarat in charge, said the machines malfunctioned in places such as Jamnagar, Rajkot and officials took over an hour to replace them.
“Many TV channels reporting on the polling have been giving a biased coverage to BJP leaders…as if campaigning for the BJP…[to influence]…the voters. This is a clear violation of the [election] Model Code of Conduct.” He asked the ECI to immediately stop it so that free and fair elections can be held.
The polling in the first phase of the Gujarat elections was being held in the state’s Saurashtra region and South Gujarat regions.
As many as 34.65% of voters turned out to vote till 1pm with Tapi registering the maximum polling (46.35%) and Botad (30.12%). South Gujarat districts registered a better turnout. Dangs registered a turnout of 46.22% and Narmada 46.16%.