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EVM-paper trail introduced in 8 of 543 constituencies

Sunday, 27 April 2014 - 7:30am IST | Agency: dna

The Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system which enables EVM to record each vote cast is introduced in only eight of 543 parliamentary constituencies in India this election.

Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore south, Chennai central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram are among them, of which only Lucknow and Gandhinagar are yet to go to poll. Few polling stations in these constituencies would be coupled with the VVPAT system also known as EVM-paper trail.

The VVPAT system is a printer with a drop box, which is kept next to EVM. When a voter cast its vote on EVM, the VVPAT unit flashes the serial number, name of the candidate and the party symbol to confirm the voter's choice. A paper slip out of the drop box for a few seconds, so that the voter can view it. But the voter does not get to keep the slip due to 'security reason'. In case of some dispute, the candidates can apply for counting of the paper slips.

In October 8, 2013 order, the apex court had directed the EC to introduce the VVPAT system this election in phased manner. The EC had not announced the name of the constituencies till recently. Dna had raised this issue in April 2 edition.

The commission cities compatibility issues and other constraints for the dismal implementation of the SC order. "The VVPAT system is compatible only with post-2006 machines, which are 10% of the EVM count. Besides, EC couldn't train poll personnel in time," said an official.

Apart from these operational issues, the commission also failed to get enough number of VVPAT units in time from the state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) – the two manufacturers available in India.

There are financial constraints too. "Approximately 13 lakh EVM machines are being used. If VVPAT is to be implemented in all the machines, it would require Rs1,500 crore to implement it," said an official.

The SC in its October 8, 2013 order, had stated that the VVPAT system with the EVMs would ensure "free and fair" polls and would help in "sorting out disputes". The court had also directed the Union government to provide financial assistance for the system.

The VVPAT was used in some polling booths in Nagaland and Delhi assembly elections 2013, and EC had expressed satisfaction over the outcome.

Dr Tushar Jagtap, the president of Maha-Mumbai Sabha, who had written a letter to EC in March, seeking details of the constituencies where VVPAT would be used said, "With this move, the EC wouldn't be liable for contempt of court. However, it would have been better if EC had ordered the VVPAT in time to follow the SC verdict in letter and spirit."

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