Doubts about the ECI’s preparedness to conduct 2024 general elections transparently and in compliance with Section 128 of the RPA1951


Shri Rajiv Kumar

Chief Election Commissioner

Election Commission of India (ECI)


Shri A C Pandey

Election Commissioner

Election Commission of India (ECI)


Shri Arun Goel

Election Commissioner

Election Commission of India (ECI)


Dear S/Shri Rajiv Kumar/ Pandey/ Goel,

In my letter dated 7-1-2023 addressed to you (, I raised concerns about the ability and preparedness of the Commission to conduct 2024 general elections transparently and in compliance with the requirement of voter secrecy mandated in Section 128 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RPA51).

It appears that the Commission’s problems are further compounded by the fact that at least 6.5 lakh VVPAT machines, out of a total of 17.4 lakhs used in 2019, that is roughly 1/3rd of the paper-trail counting machines available, are found to be defective and are still awaiting repairs ( Considering that the requirement of VVPAT machines for the 2024 elections would be at least 10% more, that is, roughly 20 lakhs, how is the Commission going to keep enough number of functioning VVPAT machines ready for 2024? The fact that an unusually large proportion of the VVPAT machines is defective raises concerns about the technology used and their efficacy.

In principle, as emphasised by me in my above-cited letter dated 7-1-2023, EVM technology in use by the Commission is non-compliant with the requirement of voter secrecy stipulated in Section 128 of RPA51, as the Commission has made no arrangements for installing “totalizers” for mixing constituency-wise ballots to ensure that votes cast cannot be traced to individual booths. At a time when political parties are openly polarising the electorate on lines of religion and caste, and subjecting voters to intimidation and coercion, non-compliance with the requirement of Section 128 will assume greater importance, rendering the voting process totally illegal.

In addition, considering that the EVM technology is not 100% infallible, as recognised the world over, unless the voter is fully assured that the vote cast by him/her has gone to the right candidate, through 100% VVPAT verification, the process of voting needs to be deemed illegal on that count also.

As pointed out by me in the letter cited, public trust in EVM technology is further eroded by the fact that the ruling political party has loaded the Board of Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) with its own political representatives, an issue on which the Commission has chosen to remain silent, thereby giving its tacit consent to it. This has certainly shaken the public trust in the use of EVM machines designed and supplied by BEL and the Commission’s willingness to deal with the problem in a forthright manner.

The problem that arises in the case of VVPAT machines is that the Commission may not be ready with 20 lakhs machines by 2024, as the defective machines are yet to be fully repaired and tested in the presence of the political parties. This gives rise to questions on the Commission’s seriousness in subjecting the voting process to a 100% cross-verification w.r.t paper trail count.

In my earlier letter, I raised serious concerns about the readiness of the Commission to procure enough M3 EVMs for 2024, in view of the emerging global chip shortage, as pointed out by Prof Rajat Moona, a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the EVMs ( This will perhaps force the Commission to look for imports from diverse sources in the US and Europe, which in turn may not guarantee the integrity of the EVMs based on chips from such sources.

Ideally, the EVMs and VVPAT machines should be subject to an independent audit by an expert group in the presence of all political parties to ensure 100% correspondence between the votes recorded by EVMs and counted by VVPATs to test the efficacy of EVM technology used in elections. In addition, once votes are cast, votes recorded need to be 100% cross-verified by VVPAT count.

To conclude,

  1. The Commission may not be ready with enough functioning VVPATs by 2024
  2. The Commission has made no arrangement to install totalisers to ensure compliance with Section 128 (voter secrecy)
  3. The Commission has tacitly allowed one political party, namely, BJP to tilt the balance in its favour by loading BEL’s Board with its own representatives, which in turn has further eroded public trust in the use of EVMs designed and supplied by that company
  4. The Commission may have to depend on M3 chip imports from diverse external sources, which in turn would raise concerns about the integrity of EVMs based on such chip technology, to be used in the 2024 elections
  5. The Commission is reluctant to subject EVMs and VVPAT machines to an independent audit by a group of experts in the presence of all political parties to satisfy the latter that there is 100% correspondence between votes recorded by EVMs and votes counted by VVPAT machines. In addition, the Commission is not ready to cross-verify votes recorded by EVMs with votes counted by VVPAT machines on a 100% basis

The Commission is obligated to provide satisfactory answers to these concerns urgently, as otherwise there will be questions raised on its ability and readiness to conduct the 2024 elections in compliance with the election laws and in a manner acceptable to the political parties and the public at large.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma

Former Secretary to the Government of India


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