The Assembly Elections in Punjab were to embrace a new technology; Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) EVMs on Saturday, March 4, 2017. On the D-Day however, as many as 725 such machines malfunctioned. The break down led to a delay in voting at 45 polling stations across 33 assembly segments.
The technical snag triggered a panic and the returning officers were seen making frantic calls to the Election Commission officials. The backup VVPAT EVMs were pressed into action after such SOS calls were received. 187 machines were replaced after the poll started.
The EC had replaced 538 VVPAT EVMs during the mock polling session which is conducted before the start of the poll. Once the backup VVPAT EVMs were exhausted, the EC replaced the other defective machines with conventional EVM
“Around 400 VVPATs were replaced with simple EVMs, mostly in Majitha, Muktsar, Sangrur, Barnala and Bathinda (Rural) seats. Polling was delayed at 45 polling stations,” said VK Singh, Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab.
Some of the AAP leaders vented their anger on social media criticizing the faulty of the machines. The party leaders also requested for an increase in polling time, however the EC did not accede to the request.
Meanwhile, Vijay Sampla , State BJP chief, congratulated the Election Commission and other government agencies for their tolerance and hard work and the manner in which they conducted the elections.