Gujarat and Himachal first bigger and multiple states to go for fully VVPAT-based voting


New Delhi: The Election Commission will hold the upcoming assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh fully with voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines but there will be no mandatory counting of paper trail in a designated percentage of polling stations in the two states. VVPAT machines produce a printout of each vote cast on an EVM. This paper trail can be used to resolve disputes.

Gujarat and Himachal to have fully VVPAT-based voting

The Gujarat and Himachal polls will be the first set of bigger and multiple states going for fully VVPAT-based voting, after it was first implemented in Goa. ECI wants to get the system of 100% VVPAT-based polls right and iron out glitches before moving on to mandatory counting of paper trail in a fixed number of polling stations in each constituency.

Candidate can seek paper trail count

There is already a provision in the counting rules enabling a candidate to seek paper trail count if not satisfied with the result.Candidates are free to exercise this option in the Gujarat and Himachal polls. VVPAT slips were counted in four polling stations in Goa on the candidates’ request. The returning officer is empowered to decide on such requests, even without the EC introducing mandatory counting of paper trail.

Background

The suggestion for compulsory counting of paper trail up to a fixed percentage was first placed before the EC at an all-party meeting on EVMs in May . Some political parties, including AAP, demanded that this be introduced to instil greater confidence in the reliability of VVPAT.

While AAP had mooted mandatory counting of paper trail in 25% of polling stations in each constituency, the EC discussed a 5% ceiling, while ensuring that paper trail was not mandatorily counted in less than five or maximum 14 polling stations of each constituency .

However, after it was noticed that mandatory paper trail count even in a small percentage of polling stations would delay results by at least three hours, coupled with the logistical challenges of implementing it in bigger constituencies, the election commission set up an internal panel to finetune the framework. The committee is yet to submit its report.

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