VVPAT to be used in Gujarat polls

The Election Commission of India will use Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) gadgets with Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in all 50,128 voting booths in Gujarat, which goes to the Assembly polls at the end of this year.

This is the first time an entire assembly poll will be conducted using EVMs equipped with VVPAT.

What are VVPAT machines?

A Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) unit provides feedback to voters using EVMs for voting. It is an independent verification printer machine and is attached to electronic voting machines. It allows voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. It also serves as an additional barrier to changing or destroying votes.

How do VVPAT machines work?

VVPAT device functions like a printer attached to the ballot unit and kept inside the voting compartment. When the voter presses the button against the name of the candidate of her/his choice on the EVM unit, the VVPAT unit generates a paper slip, also called ‘ballot slip’. This paper slip contains the name, serial number, and symbol of the chosen candidate.

  • The voter can see this slip through a screened window where it stays for seven seconds and then it automatically gets cut and falls into a sealed drop box. Thus, the ballot slip neither goes into the hands of the voter nor others get to see it.
  • The Ballot Slip can only be accessed by the polling officers in the rarest of the rare cases.

Background:

In 2013, conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended to facilitate the introduction of VVPAT units. For the first time, VVPAT with EVMs was used for the Noksen Assembly seat in Tuensang district of Nagaland.

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 apex court had directed the EC to introduce EVMs in a phased manner for the next General Elections in 2014, saying it would ensure free and fair polls. SC also directed the Centre to provide financial assistance for introducing VVPAT system.

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