Poll Panel’s Plan to Use VVPATs in ’19 Elections on Track
16-lakh VVPAT machines to be used in polls likely to arrive by September 2018
New Delhi: EC’s bid to conduct the 2019 general elections using an entirely new set of electronic voting machines with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is running four weeks behind schedule. While the general elections are scheduled to be held in May 2019, the 16-lakh VVPAT machines to be used in the polls were to be received by September 2018.
According to EC officials, who are closely monitoring the procurement of the machines, the delay has been caused by minor ‘slippages’ related to security of EVMs. EC officials, however, said the plan to use VVPAT machines in 2019 was still on track and such machines would be used across all booths for the first time.
EThas learntthatinareviewmeeting on Wednesday, there were discussions around the security of EVMs which has led to the delay. “Even though we are looking at using new EVMs for the election, it is important that all loose ends related to security are cleared,” a highlyplacedofficialsaid.
Some of the ‘slippages’ discussed withmanufacturersincluderetaining all data in case of tampering or any formof physicaldamagecausedtothe EVMduringthepolls.“Incaseof physical damage or tampering, we want to ensure that the machine does not go backtooriginalsettingsandloseallthe data(mainlyvotescastbeforethedamageoccurred),”theofficialsaid.“These
Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti aretechnicalimprovementssuggested by our technical committee to ensure fair elections and we have a window period of six months before the polls are conducted,” the official said.
EC has also reviewed the preparation for the Gujarat and Himachal elections, and has come to the conclusion that preparations are ‘on track’. VVPAT allows a paper slip to be generated bearing the name and symbol of the candidate along with a recording of the vote in the control unit so that, in case of a dispute, the slip can be counted to verify the result being shown on the EVM. A printer is attached to the balloting unit and kept in the voting compartment. The paper slip remains visible on VVPAT for seven seconds through a transparent window. Designed by BEL/ECIL, VVPATs were approved by EC in 2013 and the Centre recently released ₹ 3,174 crore for its procurement.
EC has also reviewed the preparation for the Gujarat and Himachal assembly elections