SC orders ECI to increase VVPAT verification from one EVM to five in each constituency

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has been directed by the Supreme Court to increase the verification of Voter Verified Paper Trail (VVPAT) from one Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) per constituency to any five randomly picked up EVMs in a constituency.

A PIL was filed by 21 leaders of opposition political partiesasking for counting and cross verification Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) in minimum half of all polling booths within each constituency. It further challenges the decision of ECI to count and cross verify VVPAT of anyone randomly selected booth of a constituency and said that it will count only 0.44% of the votes in total. Therefore, the whole purpose of making this guideline is defeated and makes the same “just for show” without actual substance.

In result of that, the Election Commission filed counter-affidavit stating that it would be difficult in carrying out verification of VVPAT in 50% of a constituency. It will further lead to delay in announcing results by minimum of 6 days. They further mentioned that in many constituencies there are more than 400 polling booths which would need more than 8-9 days to complete the verification of VVPAT slip.

The bench had earlier asked the Commission whether it is possible to increase the amount of VVPAT sample survey in every assembly segment. The ECI submitted that VVPAT slip is shown to the voter through a transparent window in the EVM for about 7 seconds after the vote has been cast. VVPAT is a slip generated by the EVM each time a voter casts his vote, recording to whom the vote was made. Hence, the voter can verify on the spot and the necessity of counting paper slips occurs only if there is any discrepancy between the results of the two ways. No foul play was detected while using VVPAT in 2017 assembly elections.

The decision to use VVPAT in future elections was taken by ECI and informed the Court in the 2017. However, in July 2018 the ECI decided to verify VVPAT of anyone (randomly) selected polling booth from a constituency.

Published in Constitutional Law
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