EC rejects Opposition parties' demand on VVPAT

The Election Commission has cited the Supreme Court's order to turn down the demand of the Congress and the other opposition parties to complete mandatory tallying of vote counts on the Electronic Voting Machines and the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail devices before starting counting the electronic votes cast in the machines. 

The EC on Wednesday decided to stick to its plan of completing counting of the EVM votes before starting mandatory tallying of the VVPATs paper-slip with the electronic votes in the machines in case of five randomly selected polling stations in each assembly segment of each Lok Sabha constituency. 

The commission held that “acceding to the demand” of the opposition parties to change the sequence of the VVPAT-EVM tallying was “neither possible, nor feasible in the overall context and especially in view of the judgement” delivered by the Supreme Court on April 8 last. 

The votes polled during the seven phases of voting for the Lok Sabha elections as well as the assembly elections in the four states will be counted on Thursday. 

A delegation of the Congress and the 21 other opposition parties met the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and the two other Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra, on Tuesday and demanded that EVM-VVPAT tallying should happen before counting of the EVM votes. 

The commission deliberated on the demand of the opposition parties on Tuesday and Wednesday and decided against changing the sequence of counting of EVM votes and the EVM-VVPAT tallying.   

The Supreme Court on April 8 ordered the commission to raise the number of the VVPATs to be taken up randomly for counting paper-slips and matching with electronic vote count on the corresponding EVMs from one to five in every assembly constituency in case of state assembly elections and in every assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency in case of elections to the Lok Sabha. 

The apex court issued the order after the opposition parties moved it with a petition seeking direction to the EC to tally EVM data with VVPAT paper-slip count for at least half of the polling stations in every constituency. 

The EC on Wednesday referred to the judgement of the Supreme Court underlining that the apex court had “directed that the random selection of the VVPATs” should be “subjected to the process of slip verification” as per the guidelines of the poll-panel's EVM manual. The manual stipulates that the counting of the VVPAT paper slips of the randomly selected polling stations would start only after the completion of the last round of counting of votes recorded in the EVMs.  

The EC, however, acted on some other demands of the opposition parties like allowing counting agents of candidates along with all Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers. The poll-panel said that necessary instructions had already been reiterated and wherever required made more candidate-friendly.

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