Will use pa­per trails to tally votes in HP, Gu­jarat: EC

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - NEWS - Sm­riti Kak Ra­machan­dran sm­riti.kak@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: The elec­tion com­mis­sion will count the slips gen­er­ated by pa­per trail ma­chines and tally them with votes reg­is­tered by elec­tronic vot­ing ma­chines (EVMs) in at least one polling sta­tion per as­sem­bly con­stituency across Hi­machal Pradesh and Gu­jarat.

This is be­ing done as part of on­go­ing ef­forts to en­sure com­plete trans­parency and elim­i­nate al­le­ga­tions that EVMs are doc­tored to ben­e­fit one party.

In both Gu­jarat and Hi­machal Pradesh, the elec­tion com­mis­sion has de­cided to use pa­per trail ma­chines – or VVPATs.

The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion will count the slips gen­er­ated by pa­per trail ma­chines and tally them with votes reg­is­tered by elec­tronic vot­ing ma­chines (EVMs) in at least one polling sta­tion per as­sem­bly con­stituency dur­ing the Hi­machal Pradesh and Gu­jarat polls.

This is be­ing done as part of on­go­ing ef­forts by the poll panel to en­sure that the as­sem­bly elec­tions in the two states are con­ducted amid com­plete trans­parency, and al­le­ga­tions of EVMs be­ing doc­tored to ben­e­fit a cer­tain po­lit­i­cal party are si­lenced for good.

In both Gu­jarat and Hi­machal Pradesh, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion has de­cided to use pa­per trail ma­chines – or VVPATs – that dis­playthere­sul­tona­con­fir­ma­tion screen for seven sec­onds af­ter the vote is cast. A slip gen­er­ated in the process is col­lected in a box at­tached to the ma­chine, and can be used to tally the re­sults later.

VVPATs will be used in all the 68 as­sem­bly con­stituen­cies of Hi­machal Pradesh, which go to the polls in Novem­ber, and 182 as­sem­bly con­stituen­cies of Gu­jarat, which will pos­si­bly vote a month later. Ear­lier, in keep­ing with feed­back ob­tained from var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the poll panel had an­nounced that VVPAT slips would be tal­lied with EVM re­sults in at least 5% of the polling sta­tions at each as­sem­bly seat – with no more than 14 be­ing picked at ran­dom.

The poll panel also has a pro­vi­sion for act­ing on the com­plaints of peo­ple who may al­lege mis­match be­tween the po­lit­i­cal en­ti­ties they vote for and the re­sults that ap­pear on the VVPAT dis­play screen.

If a voter finds any dis­crep­ancy, he/she can fill a form and sub­mit it to the re­turn­ing of­fi­cer. The com­plaint would then be ver­i­fied through a test vote.

If the com­plaint is found to be false, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion will be au­tho­rised to ini­ti­ate ac­tion against the voter con­cerned. The pun­ish­ment – mone­tary or oth­er­wise – is yet to be spec­i­fied.

It would be manda­tory for the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cial to in­form the voter that he/she risks pros­e­cu­tion if the com­plaint of dis­crep­ancy is found to be false. Once the test is car­ried out and the com­plaint is found to be er­ro­neous, the ex­tra vote will be de­ducted from the EVM’s fi­nal tally.

Sources said the pro­vi­sion of pe­nal ac­tion has been in­tro­duced to en­sure that the elec­toral pro­ceed­ings are not de­layed on acc- ount of false com­plaints. The de- ci­sion to limit the tal­ly­ing of votes to one con­stituency was also taken with a sim­i­lar con­cern.

As VVPATs were ear­lier used only in the Goa polls, all elec­toral of­fi­cials are be­ing trained to op­er­ate them. Vis­ually chal­lenged vot­ers will be al­lowed to take a com­pan­ion into the vot­ing booth.

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