EVM Row: Notice Issued On Mobile Phone Used 'Unauthorisedly' At Mumbai North West Counting Centre

The notice also said that the RO is proceeding against the Mid-Day newspaper for "spreading rumours maligning Indian Voters and the electoral system".

EVM and VVPAT Machine | Photo: PIB

The Election Commission on Sunday issued a notice about the mobile phone of an "authorised" person being used "unauthorisedly" by a candidate's aide at a Mumbai North West Constituency Counting Centre.

Shiv Sena's Ravindra Waikar won from this Lok Sabha seat. The poll body said that a criminal case had already been filed by the Returning Officer in this regard.

A report by Mid-Day had alleged that phone was used to generate One-Time Password (OTP) to unlock an electronic voting machine (EVM) at the counting centre in the Goregaon area.

The press statement was issued by the constituency's Returning Officer Vandana Suryavanshi.

The EC clarified this and said, "There is no OTP (One Time Password) on mobile for unlocking EVM as it is non programmable and it has no wireless communication capabilities. It is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper, which is being used by some leaders to create false narrative."

It also said that Suryavanshi is proceeding against the Mid-Day newspaper for "spreading rumours maligning Indian Voters and the electoral system".

"EVMs are stand alone devices without any wired or wireless connectivity with units outside EVM system," the EC said in its statement. It said that advanced technical features and robust administrative safeguards are in place to rule out any possibility of manipulation.

"Safeguards include conducting everything in the presence of candidates or their agents," it added.

The poll body clarified that the counting of Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) takes place in physical form (paper ballots) and not electronically, as being claimed by some false narratives.

"Every counting sheet at every table for ETPBS and EVM counting and postal ballot counting is signed by all counting agents after due diligence," the statement read.

Soon after Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said, "Madam Returning Officer is implicating the election office further rather than bring transparency. Many more questions arise from Vandana Suryawanshi jis conference rather than get answers regarding the process for Mumbai North West election result."

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithiviraj Chavan also reacted to the controversy and said, "On June 4 when the votes were being counted in the Lok Sabha polling booth in Mumbai, about which the police registered an FIR on June 14. Many questions arise from here."

"The first question is who allowed the mobile phone to be brought into the counting centre, what was the mobile phone being used for?... A new thing came up that the mobile phone is used to generate OTP and the electronic counting machines are opened with that OTP. These are all new things," Chavan said, adding that the copy of the FIR is being kept secret.

The press came on the same day when Tesla and Space X chief Elon Musk sparked a row after posting his concerns about EVMs potential vulnerabilities to hacking, saying that we should "eliminate" the voting.

The triggered controversy invited responses from former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, while INDIA bloc leaders Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav also weighed in.