Will ensure VVPATs with every voting machine in 2019: EC

Will ensure VVPATs with every voting machine in 2019: EC”

The decks for a fully paper trail-based parliamentary poll were cleared on Wednesday with the Union Cabinet approving release of funds to the Election Commission for procuring 16.15 lakh voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units in time for the 2019 general election.

In 2013, the Supreme Court said that the Election Commission must introduce the new machines called VVPATs (machines with Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail) in phases.

Attached with an electronic voting machine (EVM), a VVPAT unit churns out a paper slip with every press of EVM button, showing the voter the symbol and candidate he or she has voted for.

The Union Cabinet has cleared the proposal from the Election Commission to use paper trail machines in future elections.

October 2013: In the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Election Commission of India (ECI), the Supreme Court held that VVPAT is "indispensable for free and fair elections" and directed the ECI to equip EVMs with VVPAT systems.

The approval for procurement of VVPATs comes at a time when many opposition parties including BSP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party have raised questions on the reliability and tamper-proof nature of electronic voting machines. The slip drops in a box but the voter can not take it home.

The issue dominated a marathon Rajya Sabha discussion on electoral reforms late last month but despite repeated demands for an assurance on funds for VVPATs, both Jaitley and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad dodged the issue.

The Election Commission, Singh tweeted, was "limiting objections to EVMs to hacking".

The poll panel wrote at least a dozen letters seeking Rs 3,100 crore for procuring VVPAT units. Accordingly, introduction of the VVPAT was facilitated by amending the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 vide Notification dated 14th August, 2013. Later, 20,300 VVPAT units were purchased by the ECI.

VVPAT machines produce a printout of the vote cast using an EVM, which can be shown to the voter to dispel doubts. Subsequently, order for 67,000 additional Units was placed in 2015, out of which 33,500 Units have been supplied by the manufacturers.

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