India

Madhya Pradesh election: Staff moved over voting machine 'flaw'

Election officials looking at a voting machine - March 2017
Image caption The video showing election officials testing the machine went viral

Two election officials in India have been transferred over apparent mistakes made by an electronic voting machine, media report.

By-elections will be held in the central Madhya Pradesh state next week.

But a test of a voting machine in the state appeared to show it printing out votes for the prime minister's party, regardless of what button was pressed.

The election commission said it was sending more officials from Delhi to oversee the vote.

The problem was spotted in a video widely circulated on social media in India last week.

It showed a mandatory test of a Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine, which dispenses a slip of paper with the symbol of the party the voter selected.

In the test, the image representing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was printed on every slip.

Decisive victory in key state for Modi

A spokesman for India's election commission said it had requested "a detailed report" from the district election officer and that it would send two teams, headed by senior officials, to Madhya Pradesh. They will stay until the final votes of the 9 April by-election are counted.

Indian media reported that one election official and a senior police officer in the state's Bindh district, where the video was filmed, had been transferred. The move has not been confirmed by the election commission.

The Times of India newspaper said demonstrators had gathered on Sunday to protest against the decision to remove staff.

Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), told media he had not trusted electronic voting machines "from the start". "When the whole world is using ballot paper for elections, then what objection should we have?" he said on Saturday.

The security of the voting machines has long been a matter of debate. In a 2010 report, a group of Indian computer security experts said the machines were vulnerable to fraud, but a high court ruling two years later stated they were not.