EVMs cannot be manipulated, says chief election commissioner

Agartala, Jan 5 (IANS) The electronic voting machines (EVM) are secure for the purpose they serve as they cannot be manipulated, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) V.S. Sampath said here Saturday.

"Manipulation of EVMs is not possible. None can dream of manipulating them," the CEC told reporters after arriving here along with election commissioners H.S. Brahma and Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi from Nagaland following assessment of election preparedness in that state.

The CEC said the EVMs are used to record balloting after conduting several checks in the presence of representatives of various political parties.

"Mock polls are conducted using EVMs in presence of agents of political parties," he said.

The election commissioners held several meetings with political parties, senior officials to assess arrangements for the assembly elections in Tripura.

"During the past few years, paid news has become a menace in several states of the country. We have taken several steps to check it," Sampath said.

The poll panel has constituted the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) under the chairmanship of the chief electoral officer in each state to look into the complaints on paid news.

"Negligence, bias and partiality would not be tolerated. There would be no compromise on conducting free, fair and credible elections. Neutrality must be maintained at any cost," Sampath said while referring to the officials involved in the election process.

He asked district magistrates, superintendents of police and other officials to work without any prejudice.

"The election commission will distribute photograph-affixed voter slips (PAVs). The booth level officers will take the PAVs to the doorsteps of voters," the poll panel chief said.

According to the CEC, the PAVs would also serve as an identity proof document for voters as it will have the signature and stamp of the electoral officer concerned.

"If the name of any eligible voter is not in the voters' list, he or she can still enroll at any time -- even after the final publication of electoral roll Jan 12."

He said that proper security arrangements would be made for the polls and that preventive arrests of notorious elements would be done by the security forces.

The assembly elections are due in Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya in March this year.

An official told IANS that the commission is expected to announce the schedule of assembly elections in the three northeastern states next week.

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