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What is VVPAT, Shortcomings of VVPAT which is going to be used before 2019 polls, ECI

New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has committed today that is going to use VVPATs with every EVM at all poll stations in 2019 general elections. The ECI said it will make sure to ensure total compliance of the Supreme Court order.

This declaration comes amidst the controversy aroused by several political parties after their loss in the recent election held in stated like UP, Punjab, Goa. The political parties have alleged the EVM were tempered to vote to just one party.

Among those who have criticized the use of existing EVM were Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (AAP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati have Pointed direct finger at the election commission of India that EVMs were altered in the recently held polls in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Arvind Kejriwal went on to claim that about 20-25% of AAP votes were transferred to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition in the Punjab Elections.

Government Approval: The Central Cabinet on Wednesday have approved the Election Commission (EC) proposal to buy paper trail machines for electronic voting machines (EVMs), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. Arun Jaitley said a total of 16,15,000 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units shall be needed for the EVMs as per the Election Commission estimates in the 2019 Elections and this would cost Rs 3,173.47 crore. Jaitley said that “If we place the order in April, the whole supply would come by September 2018... Hence, VVPAT machines would be available in all polling booths in the subsequent elections,”

The VVPAT units would be manufactured by the Bharat Electronics Ltd and Electronics Corp of India Ltd..

What is VVPAT?

Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) also called as verifiable paper record (VPR) is a verification system which is attached to the EVM machines. This allows the voter to verify whether their vote was cast correctly.  The VVPAT offers some fundamental differences as a paper, rather than electronic recording medium when storing votes. A paper VVPAT is readable by the human eye and voters can directly interpret their vote.

It is important to recounting of ballots is unfeasible in non-document ballot voting system. Every VVPAT has a printer attached to it which prints out a slip bearing the name and the symbol of the candidate voted for. The slip can be referred to in case of any confusion or any foul play. It helps the voter to intercept his/her vote. This slip is human readable and proves to have an edge over the conventional machines.

Shortcomings of VVPAT

  1. The voters who do not pay much attention to verify their choices of votes they have given , may later negate the whole purpose.
  2. The audit trail which is released using software could be corrupted and may misread the voters’ choice.
  3. Tracking of the votes is possible and hence it may compromise the secrecy of the vote.
  4. The VVPAT machine is not economically feasible.
  5. This can often become time consuming in cases where the name and symbol of the candidate do not match with the one voted for. In such case the presiding officer will have to obtain written declaration from the voter. This whole process can be quite time-consuming and tedious. The voters may be discouraged from approaching the concerned authorities.

Despite all this concerns, the EC has said that it is gearing to make the VVPAT by introducing it by the 2019 General Elections.