The national elections are scheduled to take place in seven rounds beginning from April 11 to May 19, the results of which will be announced on May 23, the Election Commission announced on Sunday. Voting for 543 Lok Sabha seats will be held across India on April 11, April 19, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19.
While the Election Commissioner was announcing the dates of the Lok Sabha Election 2019, the EC decalred that Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be used with EVMs in all polling stations.
From paper ballots to EVMs, the journey of the decider of which candidate wins and which party forms the government in the elections has come a long way. Among the latest additions to this category has been the VVPAT. As India gears up for the 17th Lok Sabha elections, here’s all you need to know about the VVPAT:
VVPAT stands for Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail. The device is connected to the Electronic Voter Machine (EVM) on which the voter presses the button to cast his/her vote. VVPAT gives the voter a confirmation of the candidate he/she voted for and the person's party symbol.
The machine releases a printed slip of the information of the vote. However, the person won’t be able to take the slip as it gets cut after seven seconds and is dropped into a secret ballot compartment following a beep. The machine is kept in a glass case and only the voter will be able to see the slip. The paper roll used in the VVPAT is capable of printing 1500 slips.
Several politicians have raised concerns over the use of the EVMs and alleged it is easy to tamper with and many have blamed EVM's susceptibility after defeats in elections. The Election Commission has rejected the allegations on the EVMs. The Supreme Court had directed the Election Commission in 2013 to introduce in a phased manner the VVPAT for the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.
The SC order was in response to a petition filed by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy. The VVPAT was used for the first time in the by-elections to Noksen Assembly constituency in Nagaland in 2013. It was then used at the Goa Assembly elections in 2017 and some more polls.
In the statement issued by the Election Commission, it has been mandated to use the VVPAT slip count of One (1) randomly selected Polling Station in each Assembly Constituency in case of Assembly elections and One (1) randomly selected polling station of each Assembly Segment of Parliamentary Constituency, by the Returning Officer, by Draw of Lot in presence of all candidates, shall be done for verification of the result obtained from the Control Unit.
"This mandatory verification of VVPAT slip count of one (1) polling station in each Assembly Constituency/each Assembly Segment of Parliamentary Constituency shall be in addition to the provisions of Rule 56(D) of the Conduct of Elections Rules,1961."
Training and Awareness on use of EVMs and VVPATs:
All Chief Electoral Officers of States and Union Territories have been directed by the Election Commission to ensure proper training of all the polling personnel regarding the use of EVMs and VVPATs, as well as to create widespread awareness amongst the citizens, political parties, contesting candidates, their polling agents and other stakeholders about the use of EVMs and VVPATs.
Furthermore, the Commission has also directed that a sufficient number of Mobile Vans for each Assembly Constituency should be deployed for demonstration and awareness on use of VVPATs (practice of vote casting by electors) so that each village/hamlet gets covered with 3-4 hours demo twice before the elections. There should be atleast one visit to each polling station location by mobile van (for demonstration and practice of vote casting) before announcement of elections and repeat coverage after announcement of election, if not done earlier.
GPS tracking of movement of EVMs and VVPATs:
The Commission has instructed the Chief Electoral Officers of all States and UTs that end-to-end movement of all Reserve EVMs and VVPATs shall be carefully monitored at all times, for which all Sector Officers' vehicles with Reserve EVMs and VVPATs shall mandatorily be fitted with GPS tracking system.