'50% VVPAT verification will delay results by 6 days'

'50% VVPAT verification will delay results by 6 days'

The Election Commission (EC) on Friday told the Supreme Court 50% VVPAT slip verification in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency or assembly constituency on an average would increase the time required for counting to about six days.

The EC maintained its “confidence and satisfaction” with the present rule of VVPAT slip verification of one randomly selected polling station per assembly constituency or assembly segment (in case of parliamentary constituencies), saying this was based on the secure design of EVMs and the elaborate procedural safeguards adopted for its usage.

“Any further increase in the sample size of verification will lead to very negligible gain in the confidence level, which currently is way above 99.9936%. It is pertinent to mention in this context that till date no mismatch has been detected in mock polls or in verification of VVPAT slips carried out at 1500 polling stations till date,” the panel said in its 49-page affidavit. The top court had on March 25 asked the EC to indicate the basis of its satisfaction of the physical verification of VVPAT. 

Citing the Indian Statistical Institute report of March 22 to contend that the current system was “sufficient to maintain the accuracy and purity of the election process”, the EC also pointed out that 50% verification would involve further difficulties like training more personnel, which was not possible at this stage.

The CJI-led bench has scheduled the matter for consideration on April 1.

It said the adoption of EVMs for the conduct of elections on the enactment of Section 61A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, was aimed at purifying the electoral system from grave ills.

“EVMs have completely eliminated the problem of invalid votes, which were in many cases more than the winning margin in the constituency. The use of EVMs substantially reduced the incidence of booth capturing during elections and the incidence of manual error in counting, which was responsible for various disputes and demands for re-count,” it said.

The deployment of EVMs has also substantially reduced the time taken in counting thereby reducing the risk of speculation-fuelled political violence. It is therefore submitted that adoption of a large sample for slip verification shall render the purpose of Section 61A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the adoption of EVMs as otiose, it added.

“Any manual count is prone to human errors or deliberate mischief and any large-scale slip verification substantially compounds this likelihood of manual error and mischief in counting of votes. VVPAT slips are substantially smaller than ballot papers that were used prior to the introduction of EVMs,” it said.