EC to train officials in handling EVMs, VVPATS

EC to train officials in handling EVMs, VVPATS

A committee examining Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 and other related provisions submit the report to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, in New Delhi, on Thursday. PTI

The Election Commission (EC) will arrange for extensive training of the polling officials on handling Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) devices to minimise possibilities of technical snags disrupting voting during the forthcoming parliamentary polls.

With the Lok Sabha polls just a few weeks away, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora has asked the chief electoral officers (CEO) of all the states to make it sure that the polling officials could have “extensive hands-on experience” in handling EVMs and VVPATs before being sent out to the polling stations. The CEC underlined that the polling officials should be adequately trained in order to avert a disruption in the voting processes due to glitches in the machines.

The EC on Friday and Saturday held a meeting with the CEOs to review preparations for the Lok Sabha elections, which might take place in March and April this year.

While several Opposition parties have been questioning the credibility of EVMs, the recent bye-elections and the Assembly elections in several states saw the glitches in the machines delaying or disrupting voting in some polling stations. Some VVPATs also malfunctioned during several recent elections.

Arora also asked CEOs to try to make even the voters aware of the use of EVMs and VVPATs, not only to help minimise the possibility of the machines developing snags during polling, but also to boost “confidence among the stakeholders”, according to a press-release issued by the EC.

The EC primarily focussed on the integrity of the electoral roll, meticulous planning for elections, EVM and VVPAT assessment and training and extensive voter outreach.

Arora told CEOs that the electoral rolls were currently under the process of revision and finalisation. The revised electoral rolls would be used in the forthcoming general elections and hence the ongoing revision assumed additional importance. He asked CEOs to ensure the purity of the rolls. He also said that every effort must be made to get all voters registered well in time. He reaffirmed the significance of the 1950 helpline for the voters and its role as the First point of Care for the voter in finding her or his name and the EPIC status in the electoral roll, as well as for connecting to the election machinery and exercising her or his democratic right. He directed all the state CEOs to set in place support systems for the 1950 helpline as early as possible.

The CEC reiterated the commitment of the EC to provide minimum facilities in all polling stations. He also directed CEOs to have their booth-level, district-level and state-level plans ready and conduct a meticulous assessment of all resources required for the conduct of elections. The states and the UTs must assess their EVMs and VVPATs requirements and also ensure adherence to the time-lines specified for completion of their first level checking.

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa too asked CEOs to reiterate the immense significance of the integrity of the electoral roll at this crucial juncture. He said that the entire election machinery must now be geared up to deliver yet another flawless election to the country.