Vol. 4 Num 318 Wed. April 21, 2004  

Indian Elections
Voters struggle with EVMs even in Andhra
Voting machine lures Asamese

Andhra Pradesh voters' tryst with technology had its share of hiccups yesterday with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) developing technical snag at several polling stations across ten districts delaying the polling process.

For the first time in the state, EVMs have been installed at all the 29,622 polling booths in the areas going to polls in the first phase yesterday covering 21 out of 42 Lok Sabha and 147 out of 294 Assembly constituencies in the State.

Reports of EVMs failing to register the votes poured in from Mahaboobnagar, Kurnool, Karimnagar, Ranga Reddy, Nizamabad, Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam, Khammam, Nalgonda and West Godavari, besides some polling booths in the twin cities.

An official of the State Election Department, however, said that special teams of officials, assisted by technicians from Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), were being rushed to the problem areas to rectify the snag.

"The special zonal officers, each having jurisdiction over about 100 polling stations, have at their disposal a set of additional EVMs to be dispatched to the problem areas. They are also provided with mobile phones to receive complaints from the field," he said.

Meanwhile, the main Opposition Congress expressed doubts over efficacy of EVMs and had demanded a random check of the machines by representatives of various political parties before the start of the polling process.

On the other hand, curiosity about the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) being used across the state for the first time was a motivating factor for many voters to exercise their franchise in Assam during the first phase of polling in six Lok Sabha constituencies yesterday.

Binita Barua, a housewife whose household chores usually kept her away from voting, this time however ventured out "to see what is an EVM and how will it work to register my vote".

Her views were echoed by many others who came out to cast their ballot on the machine.

Chief Minister of the violence ridden state of Bihar Rabri Devi (C) casts her vote along with one of her daughters (L) at a polling station in the state capital Patna yesterday. Voting got underway in 13 Indian states and three federal territories, signalling the start of the world's largest election involving 670 million voters, 700,000 voting booths and two million poll officials, in a five-phased parliamentary polls, which will be tallied May 13. PHOTO: AFP