Use of VVPAT should not be ornamental:Opp parties to SC

Use of VVPAT should not be ornamental:Opp parties to SC

Twenty-one opposition parties led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has contended before the Supreme Court that even delay of over five days in the counting of Lok Sabha polls results if VVPAT count was increased to 50%, was not a serious delay as it would ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

"It is not difficult at all, much less an insurmountably difficult, sensitise one or two officials (for counting) and the EC should not be permitted to resist increase of percentage or number of EVMs to be verified or checked against VVPAT on this ground," the parties said.

They also said if the manpower was increased, counting can be completed in less than two days with 50% VVPAT match.

The Election Commission has opposed their plea for raising VVPAT verification from one EVM in one Assembly segment to 50 % of polling booths, saying it would take six days to complete the counting of votes.

In response to the EC's assertion, the opposition parties said once VVPAT has been introduced and 100% coverage is available, it must be used effectively and should not remain as "ornamental" or "merely tokenism" otherwise its purpose would be frustrated.

The EC, in its stand, maintained “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 a very negligible gain in the confidence level, which currently is way above 99.9936%," it said.

The top court is to take up on Monday  the petition filed by several opposition leaders, including Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Sharad Pawar, K C Venugopal, Derek Obrain, Sharad Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Chandra Mishra, M K Stalin, T K Rangarajan, Manoj K Jha, Farooq Abdullah, S S Reddy, Danish Ali, Ajit Singh, Mohd Badruddin Ajmal, Jitin Ram Majhi, and others.

Voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines are used in all polling stations but results of EVMs and VVPATs are matched in one polling station per constituency.