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SC wants paper trail in EVMs for fair poll

12/1/2017 337 Indian Polity | Elections | View Recent Current Affairs

  • The Supreme Court has reiterated the necessity to implement the Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in electronic voting machines (EVMs) to ensure 100% transparency in elections.

What is VVPAT system?

  • Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot less voting system. VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for electronic voting machines that allows voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended and can serve as an additional barrier to changing or destroying votes.
  • Under VVPAT, a printer-like apparatus is linked to Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). When a vote is cast, a receipt is generated showing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate. It confirms the vote and the voter can verify the details. The receipt, once viewed, goes inside a container linked to the EVM and can only be accessed by the election officers in rarest of rare cases.
  • The system allows a voter to challenge his or her vote on basis of the paper receipt for the first time. As per a new rule, the booth presiding officer will have to record the dissent of the voter, which would have to be taken into account at time of counting.
  • The VVPAT system was not manufactured due to doubts on the EVM, but was part of the up gradation of the system.

Analysis:

  • Bringing transparency in electoral process and preventing malpractices is one of the formidable challenges that India has been trying to tackle for years. Even after the transformation from ballot paper system to electronic voting machines, not much headway could be made to rule out manipulation of poll results. Many started raising concerns about the vulnerability of EVMs, the government felt the need to further delve into the issue and introduce a more viable option.
  • The Election Commission has been planning to introduce VVPAT system since 2011 when it started exploring the possibility of conducting first field trials. Although the system was first experimented during the Nagaland by-elections in 2013, Mizoram was the first state to introduce VVPAT on a large scale. It was used in 10 assembly constituencies of Aizawl district.
  • On a national level, the system was introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies during the 2014 general elections. It was used in 516 polling stations across eight states.

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