- The Election Commission recently received a memorandum from 16 political parties demanding that the paper ballot system be reintroduced for greater transparency during elections. The BSP, the AAP and the Congress have alleged that of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) took place during the recent Assembly Elections.
- Amid protests by Opposition parties against EVMs without paper trail units, there has been a call for procurement of VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) machines for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
What are VVPAT machines?
- The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail is a method that provides feedback to voters. It is an independent verification printer machine and is attached to electronic voting machines.
- It allows voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate.
How do VVPAT machines work?
- When a voter presses a button in the EVM, a paper slip is printed through the VVPAT. The slip contains the poll symbol and name of the candidate. It allows the voter to verify his/her choice.
- After being visible to the voter from a glass case in the VVPAT for seven seconds, the ballot slip will be cut and dropped into the drop box in the VVPAT machine and a beep will be heard. VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only.
What is the Election Commission’s stand on the issue?
- The EC has time and again reiterated that EVMs cannot be tampered with It has made public the findings of inquiries into specific charges of tampering in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind and Rajasthan’s Dholpur that give a clean chit to the machines.
- With the Opposition insisting on doing away with the EVMs and the controversy refusing to die down, the EC has now thrown open a challenge, inviting computer experts and political leaders to prove that the machines can be hacked, in the presence of the EVM manufacturers.
What does the Supreme Court say?
- The Supreme Court on April 13, 2017, asked the Centre to respond by May 8 to a plea by the BSP to comply with a 2013 Supreme Court directive to introduce paper trail in EVMs.
- In 2013, the SC had asked the Commission to introduce paper trails in EVMs in a phased manner for the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. “EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system. With an intent to have fullest transparency in the system and to restore the confidence of the voters, it is necessary to set up EVMs with VVPAT system because vote is nothing but an act of expression which has immense importance in democratic system,” the Bench had said.