The Election Commission has turned down the demand of opposition to tally the Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) before counting. A delegation comprising representatives from 22 opposition parties had demanded that the VVPAT slips be verified with the EVMs before the counting of votes began.
Matching of VVPAT slips with EVM results
The Supreme Court had ruled that the results of EVMs will be matched with paper trail machine slips. This exercise has to take place at 5 randomly selected polling stations per assembly segment. The step has been taken on account of reports of EVMs being tampered with. The matching of results is supposed to increase the credibility of the electoral process.
The SC recently also dismissed a PIL submitted by a Chennai- based NGO which demanded 100% matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs. The Court stated that such a step, at a time when the election process is nearing it’s end, might complicate the process and would require a lot of time and manpower.
The Election Commission cited similar reasons for denying the request of the Opposition partied. It stated that matching the VVPAT slips with the EVMs before the counting would make the entire process longer. Critics have also said that targeting the EVM has become a trend with parties as an excuse for losing the elections.
Use of VVPAT
VVPAT stands for Voter verifiable paper audit trail. It was introduced as a pilot project in Indian General Elections in 2014 in 8 constituencies namely- Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore South, Chennai Central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram. In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it has been introduced in all 543 Lok Sabha Constituencies.
A VVPAT system is aimed at detecting possible election fraud and allows the voter to verify that their vote was cast correctly. It is installed with the name of the candidate along with the party symbol.
Though VVPAT does add an element of accuracy to the electoral process, it is equally tricky to maintain it. It requires special external hardware which may be difficult to use. Also, since it is a recent introduction in the Indian electoral scene, some people involved in the electoral process might find it confusing and difficult to understand at first.
Indian Lok Sabha elections are one of the largest and most celebrated festivals of democracy in the world given the diversity of our electorate. The whole nation is now awaiting the result of 2019 Lok Sabha elections in utmost excitement.