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2019 elections: Allocation of requisite EVMs, VVPATs underway, says Election Commission

New Delhi: Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said it is making all preparatory arrangements to ensure requisite allocation of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) across the country.

Around 22.3 lakh ballot units, 16.3 lakh control units and nearly 17.3 lakh VVPATs will be used for the forthcoming elections in 2019, read a statement. The mandatory first level checks and training of district Officers are also being ensured to meet the requirement of 100 per cent VVPATs across approximately 10.6 lakh polling stations for the Lok Sabha election due in 2019. “The commission has been consistently reviewing the status of production and supply of EVMs and VVPATs with the CMDs of PSUs,” the statement added. The total number of machines includes the buffer stock for training as well as replacements.

The EVM VVPAT inventory is securely managed through a robust tracking system to track all operations on machine movement, first level checks, randomisation and poll day defects. More user-friendly EVM management software will be pilot tested in the forthcoming assembly elections in select districts such as Ajmer, Indore, Durg, Aizawl and Mehboobnagar.

“Till date, EVMs have been used in 113 general elections of state assemblies and three Lok Sabha elections since 2000. Use of EVMs has ended the days of booth capturing and the delays and errors in the counting of ballot papers. Also, during the ballot paper era, a large number of votes in each assembly constituency ended up being invalid. There have been instances of invalid votes being higher than even the winning margin in several elections.” The ECI also said that the addition of VVPATs has helped strengthen the voters’ trust and transparency of the voting process.

 

A VVPAT is an independent printer system attached with the EVM that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.  VVPAT slips will be visible to the voter for seven seconds behind the transparent screen of VVPAT, before falling into the sealed compartment at the base of the machine. The specially-designed thermal paper to be used in the VVPAT is capable of retaining the printout for more than five years so that the printout is available for manual verification by the court if required in need of a dispute for cross-checking the counting of votes cast.

So far, VVPATs have been used in 933 state assembly constituencies and 18 parliamentary constituencies. Till date, VVPATs have been used in all assembly constituencies at 100 per cent polling stations during the general assembly elections in seven states namely Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Karnataka held in 2017-18. Since December 2017, the ECI has been suo-moto doing a verification of VVPAT count from one randomly selected polling station selected per assembly constituency. Slips of 873 VVPATs machines have been counted till now and each of these has exactly matched the count taken from EVMs. The EVMs and VVPATS being used in the ECI election process are manufactured only at two premium PSUs – Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) under the technical expertise of an independent committee and supervision of the ECI making them absolutely tamper proof.

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