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Election Commission Ready For '100 Percent Use' of VVPATs, Says OP Rawat

He said the Election Commission has ordered 17.5 lakh VVPAT machines and received 10 lakh out of them.


Updated:August 23, 2018, 10:26 PM IST
Election Commission Ready For '100 Percent Use' of VVPATs, Says OP Rawat
File photo of Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat.

Aurangabad: The Election Commission is ready for "hundred per cent use" of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said on Thursday.

He was speaking with a select group of journalists in Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

"In 2013, the Supreme Court said in one case that EVMs(Electronic Voting Machines) are good, but the voter cannot see whether the vote has gone to the candidate he/she chose, and ordered us to go back to ballot paper or provide paper trail. So, we are providing verifiable trail in all polls," Rawat said.

He said the Election Commission has ordered 17.5 lakh VVPAT machines and received 10 lakh out of them.

The rest will be received by November and "we are ready for 100 per cent use of VVPATs," he said.

"Generally, the EC starts preparing 14 months in advance. So, we began working for the 2019 Lok Sabha poll in February 2018. Midway, there will be polls for Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram (assemblies) also, but we will take them in our stride," Rawat said.

On the controversy about EVMs, with some opposition parties alleging that these machines can be tampered with and demanding return to the paper ballot system, the chief election commissioner backed EVMs.

"The understanding about EVMs is not really comprehensive. After glitches during Gondia and Kairana bypolls (this year), it was said that the EVM system was failing," Rawat said.

"The error-ratio of EVMs is not more than 0.5 to 0.6 per cent, which is common in any machine. What really failed in those polls was Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines," he said.

"VVPATs were totally new and unknown. Even polling parties were trained for the first time in their use. EVMs are purely electronic machines like radio, computers or mobiles, while VVPAT is an electro-mechanical machine containing paper roll, a motor to run it, system to print and cut," he said.

"They (VVPATs) are very complicated and slight mishandling can result in failure. India has different climatic zones, and the paper used in VVPATs also decides their functioning," the CEC said.

"Today, polling is going on in Meghalaya Assembly bypolls where more than 33 per cent VVPATs failed as the paper used was not suitable for the humid weather there. In Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll or in Punjab polls, VVPATs were kept under light, and contrast censors got active leading to malfunctioning," he said.

On the hearing of a case in Supreme Court regarding candidates with criminal background, Rawat said, "The EC has submitted an affidavit supporting all steps to decriminalise politics. We are of the view that criminals who have been convicted should not be allowed to seek electoral office."

On 'None of the Above Option', he said in the elections so far, it has been generally exercised by 1.2 to 1.4 per cent of voters.

Earlier in the day, Rawat discussed poll preparations in Marathwada region with senior state officials.

| Edited by: Parth Sharma
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