New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday announced that the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 will be conducted with the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units attached to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to allay fears of voters and silence Opposition criticism of any wrong voting by the machines.
While sanctioning Rs 3,173.47 crore on Wednesday for buying the VVPATs, the Union Cabinet asked the Election Commission to procure by September 2018 all 16.15 lakh VVPAT units needed for deployment in all polling booths in 2019.
Officials said this sanction was in addition to Rs 1,600 crore already provided in the supplementary budget of the current year to buy more EVMs and VVPATs. They said the VVPAT units will act as an additional layer of transparency for the satisfaction of the voters, allaying apprehensions as to the integrity of the EVMs. It will also result in compliance of the Supreme Court’s directions issued on October 8, 2013.
The idea of the additional layer of transparency was suggested by the political parties in a meeting called by the Election Commission on October 4, 2010. The Conduct of Election Rules were amended through a notification on August 14, 2013 to facilitate use of VVPAT.
The Election Commission has since purchased 20,300 VVPAT units in 2013 and another 33,500 in 2015. They are, however, very few compared to over 16 lakh EVMs deployed in the elections.
Clarifying how VVPAT device functions like a printer attached to the ballot unit and kept inside the voting compartment, the officials said: “When the voter presses the button against the name of the candidate of his choice on the EVM, the VVPAT unit generates a paper slip, called ballot slip. This paper slip contains the name, serial number and symbol of the chosen candidate. The voter can see this slip through a screened window where it stays for seven seconds, and then automatically gets cut and falls down into a sealed drop box.”
Dr Swamy, who is now a BJP MP, had moved the apex court in 2013 seeking directions to the Election Commission to use VVPAT units in all polling booths. The EC submitted that it has no objection to installing VVPAT units and accordingly, the Supreme Court ordered its implementation in phased manner.