Millennium Post

Opposition demand on VVPATs rejected by Election Commission

NEW DELHI: The Opposition demand to tally the VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) slips with the Electronic Voting Machines before votes are counted tomorrow has been turned down by the Election Commission. The verification of EVM votes with VVPAT slips from five random polling booths in each assembly segment — made mandatory by the Supreme Court — will be done after the counting of votes and not before, the Commission said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a delegation comprising representatives of 22 opposition parties had asked the commission to conduct the VVPAT verification process before the counting of votes begins. In case of discrepancy, they demanded that 100 per cent votes from the assembly segment should be tallied.

The Commission had asked for time to consider the issue. After a meeting attended by all three Commissioners Wednesday, the demand was rejected.

The Election body has also said: "If there is any mismatch between the EVM votes and the candidates wise VVPAT slips, the VVPAT slip count will prevail (& not the EVM votes) as per rule 56D(4)(b) of the Conduct of Election Rules and the result sheet shall be amended and final results be announced accordingly".

The question of tallying VVPAT slips rose when the opposition parties contended after the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh that the voting machines were tampered to favour the BJP.

The Supreme Court, where the matter finally went, asked the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths per assembly segment in Lok Sabha polls.

It means for each Lok Sabha seat, slips from 30 VVPAT machines need to be tallied with the votes.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties in several states are keeping a round-the-clock vigil on the storage rooms where the voting machines are kept in high security, ahead of the counting of votes in the national election. This comes amid complaints of alleged tampering of EVMs and protests in Uttar Pradesh after videos of alleged movement and tampering of voting machines.

Digvijaya Singh, senior Congress leader and the party's candidate in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal, and his wife visited voting machine storeroom at the central jail in the city on Tuesday night.

In Uttar Pradesh, Congress workers sat outside the EVM storerooms in Meerut and Raebareli, the stronghold of the Gandhis from where Sonia Gandhi is seeking re-election.

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