Millennium Post

Increase EVM paper trail count: Oppn parties to SC

NEW DELHI: Twenty-one opposition parties on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to review its order on counting the slips of only five EVM paper trail machines in every assembly segment. The parties reiterated its request for counting at least 50 per cent of the voter-verifiable paper trail (VVPAT) slips, a plea that was turned down by the Supreme Court earlier this month.

On April 8, the Election Commission said random checks of VVPAT slips to verify whether votes have been recorded accurately will be increased across the country, after the Supreme Court ordered a "high degree of accuracy" in the national election that started on April 11.

The increase may delay results by around an hour, election officials had said.

The Election Commission had argued that results of the election could be delayed by five days if 50 per cent of VVPATs in every assembly segment is counted, following which the top court told the poll body to increase the number of VVPAT machines from one to just five, so the delay will be marginal.

VVPATs are being used for the first time in any Lok Sabha election; they have till now been used in some parliamentary and assembly bypolls.

After votes are cast, the polling station where VVPAT slips are matched with vote machine results is decided by a draw of lots in the presence of candidates. The April 8 Supreme Court order meant that five polling stations, instead of one, will be picked for the random matching of slips.

The request by the 21 opposition parties to increase counting of VVPATs comes amid constant fights among parties in election season.

The Election Commission has said that based on inputs from the Indian Statistical Institute, a sample survey of 479 assembly segments would generate 99.99 per cent accuracy. The poll body had also flagged infrastructure and workforce constraints; it said it needs a minimum team of three officers to count VVPATs.

The poll body at present matches VVPAT slips of 4,125 EVMs under the "one EVM per assembly segment" guideline. Following the earlier court order, the Election Commission will count the VVPAT slips of five times as many machines in each constituency, or that of 20,625 EVMs.

The Supreme Court had also made it clear that it was not casting any doubt on the Election Commission's checks and processes.

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