•Twenty-one Opposition parties had moved the Supreme Court against the EC’s guideline that VVPAT counting would take place only in one polling station in each Assembly segment.
•The Election Commission indicated to the Supreme Court that if the 50% Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slip verification is carried out, it will delay counting by six days.
•The Supreme Court recently increased voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) verification to five random Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in each Assembly segment/constituency “to ensure the greatest degree of accuracy, satisfaction in election process.“ and making the election "fool-proof."
•The Supreme Court's decision is a far shot from what 21 Opposition parties wanted — VVPAT verification in 50% or 125 polling booths in each constituency.
•The increase to five EVMs from one would only increase the VVPAT verification percentage from 0.44% to less than two per cent.
Meeting with Election Commission
•Opposition parties demanded for tallying of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in five polling booths in each Assembly segment with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), prior to the vote count
•EC decided, “It has neither been found possible nor feasible to accede to this demand in the overall context and especially in view of the judgment of the Supreme Court.
•Since VVPAT counting is done manually, the risk of error is more.
•It would require extensive training and capacity building of election officials
•The results of elections would be delayed by six days.
•EVMs are highly reliable and fool proof and it can’t be tempered.
•EVM-VVPATs have secure designs and elaborate procedural safeguard.
•Commission submitted that no mismatch has been detected in mock polls or in the verification of VVPAT slips carried out at 1,500 polling stations till date
Electronic voting Machine (EVM)
•The Indian electronic voting machine (EVM) were developed in 1989 by Election Commission of India in collaboration with Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited.
•The EVMs were first used in 1982 in the by-election to North Paravur Assembly Constituency in Kerala for a limited number of polling stations.
•The EVMs were used first time in the general election (entire state) to the assembly of Goa in 1999.
•In 2003, all by-elections and state elections were held using EVMs.
•ECI decided to use only EVMs for Lok Sabha elections in 2004.
What is VVPAT
•VVPAT is an independent system attached to an EVM that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.
•When a vote is cast, a slip is printed on the VVPAT printer containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate voted.
•This remains visible to the voters through a transparent window for seven seconds.
•Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls into a sealed drop box.
•If need be, these printouts can later be counted.
History of VVPAT
•In October 2010, some parties requested the Commission to consider introducing VVPATs for further transparency and verifiability of the votes cast.
•2011, BEL and ECIL made a prototype of the VVPAT and demonstrated it to the technical committee and the Election Commission.
•In the same year the Commission conducted simulated elections for the field trial of the VVPAT system in various places including Thiruvananthapuram, Ladakh, Cherrapunji and Jaisalmer.
•Two years later, the government amended the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 allowing the Commission to use VVPATs along with EVMs.
•VVPATs were first used in the bye-election for the Noksen Assembly seat in Nagaland in 2013.
VVPAT in 2019 elections
•EC has announced of 100 per cent use of VVPATs during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
•VVPATs make the voting process more transparent and lend it credibility to gain voter confidence.