Decision on increase in VVPAT-EVM match would be based on feasibility: EC tells parties

Sources in the poll panel said the demand of opposition parties to make matching of EVM and VVPAT results be made mandatory in seats with 5 per cent or less winning margin would also be considered.

Published: 04th February 2019 09:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th February 2019 09:45 PM   |  A+A-

Opposition leaders R-L Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal National Conference President Farooq Abdullah NCP Chief Sharad Pawar TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and TMC MP Derek O'Brien at a press conference in New Delhi Monday Feb. 4 2019. | PTI

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Monday told representatives of political parties that any decision to increase the number polling stations where EVM results are matched with paper trail machines before the declaration of results would be based on "operational feasibility on the ground".

The poll panel also assured the parties that issues raised by them would be "deliberated and examined".

The opposition leaders, who met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and fellow commissioner Ashok Lavasa, demanded the poll panel ensure that 50 per cent of EVM results are matched and cross-checked with voter-verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) before the declaration of results in the Lok Sabha elections, expected to take place in April-May.

As of now, paper trail machines are used in all polling stations but their slips are counted only in one polling station per assembly constituency.

A statement issued by the poll panel said, while considering the averments made by the parties, the Commission will also keep in view the pronouncements made by different courts as well as the report expected shortly from the Indian Statistical Institute on the subject.

"Besides the overall administrative and operational feasibility on the ground, before firming up any response," would be kept in mind, the EC said.

"The Commission assured the political parties that issues raised by them would be deliberated and examined," the statement said.

Sources in the poll panel said the demand of opposition parties to make matching of EVM and VVPAT results be made mandatory in seats with 5 per cent or less winning margin would also be considered.

The representatives of parties were also given updated copies of booklets on EVM and VVPAT to showcase the reliability of the machines.

The Indian Statistical Institute has been asked to submit a report on whether the number of polling stations where VVPAT and EVM results are matched should be increased and what should be the optimum sample size.

VVPAT or paper trail machine is a device which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for.

The slip appears on a small window for seven seconds and then drops in a box.

The voter cannot take it home.

There have been demands to increase the number of polling stations where EVM and VVPAT results are matched to dispel fears about electronic voting machines being 'hacked' to favour a particular political party.

The EC has been brainstorming over an increasing percentage of VVPAT slips since 2016.

Then CEC Nasim Zaidi had pushed for an early decision but little progress was made.

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