New Delhi: A day before the Lok Sabha elections 2019 end with the counting of votes, former chief election commissioner O P Rawat on Wednesday spoke out in favour of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Talking to ANI, Rawat said, “EVMs can’t be tampered with. EVM security protocol is so strict whenever a strong room has to be opened, representatives of all political parties have to be there, machines are taken out in their presence and a mock poll is also conducted.”

Rawat went on to add, “When making EVMs ready for the polling, a mock poll is again conducted at polling station where all the polling agents are asked to vote and then count, so all these arrangements ensure that EVMs can’t be tampered with.”

Rawat’s comments assume significance in the light of the furore over EVMs during the seven-phased Lok Sabha elections which saw the last day of voting on May 19 and counting of votes would be held on May 23.

Earlier in the day, the Election Commission had turned down the representation by 22 Opposition parties for 100% tallying of EVM-VVPAT in case of a mismatch. The poll body said the counting process will be conducted as per the schedule and VVPAT slips will be counted after EVMs and not prior to it.

The Opposition delegation had submitted a memorandum before the poll body, requesting that the verification of VVPAT slips of randomly identified polling stations should be done prior to the initiation of counting of votes and not after the completion of last round of counting.

Notably, this is for the first time in a Lok Sabha election that results of voting machines will be matched with slips generated by paper trail machines.

Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the grounds of excessive use of money power.