India’s Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday reported that 16.5 lakh Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be delivered soon in preparation for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
VVPAT machines perform the function of verifying that voters’ vote are reaching the correct candidate, and can be used in conjunction with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to avoid malfunctions or tampering.
VVPATs: 10 Things You Need To Know
- VVPAT machines can be connected to EVMs during elections to record votes simultaneously as they are being polled.
- To allow a voter to verify that it has documented her/his vote correctly, VVPATs display the polled vote for seven seconds before storing it.
- The machine then provides a printout of the cast vote, to be deposited into boxes.
- In an affidavit filed in April 2017, the EC reassured the Supreme Court of India that it would have VVPAT machines in place by the time the 2019 general elections take place.
- The Supreme Court had issued a directive to the EC in 2013 regarding the use of VVPATs.
- The EC press release reiterating that the machines will be used in 2019 comes as a response to an RTI notice from several weeks ago that sought to check on their status.
- The EC has reportedly been working with Public Sector Undertakings and the Technical Experts Committee to ensure that the machines are ready in time.
- According to the EC, VVPATs have been in use for all Parliamentary and State Assembly elections since June 2017.
- VVPAT machines have, in the past, been used for elections in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
- The introduction of a secondary mechanism to verify votes has gained newfound relevance in light of questions raised about the functioning of EVMs, making VVPATs all the more important.