India’s first ever paper audit trail of votes (Voter-verifiable paper audit trail machines) will take place in all the 7,000-odd polling stations in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. This step has especially been taken to counter the allegations of EVM tampering and of being biased towards BJP.
What Is A VVPAT Machine?
As per the VVPAT machines, when a voter casts his or her vote on the electronic voting machine (EVM), the VVPAT unit attached will churn out a slip showing the serial number, name and the symbol voted for. It will flash for seven seconds before it falls in the box.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A.K. Joti said,
“The most important thing in transparency and credibility in an election is that a voter can verify himself that his vote went to the right person. I think this is a unique system in India.”
The Supreme Court on October 8, 2013, on the basis of a PIL filed by Subramanian Swamy, directed the EC to introduce the VVPAT system in a phased manner so that it is used across the length and breadth of the country by 2019. It was done to ensure free and fair polls as it would help in verification.
There was cent percent VVPAT coverage during assembly elections in Goa as well but there was no official audit of the paper trail.
As per the rules, there would be compulsory counting of VVPAT paper slips at one polling station, which would be randomly selected in each assembly constituency.
All Women Polling Stations
Other than this, all the assembly constituencies of Himachal would have two all-women polling stations where each and every staff (security personnel as well) will be women.
In a bid to increase awareness among the voters, the EC plans to distribute a voter guide brochure in the local languages to every household which will provide basic information such as date and time of polling, contact details of BLO, helpline numbers and the documents required for identification, etc.
VVPAT system has especially been introduced after the recent allegations of EVM tampering by various opposition parties.
Arvind Kejriwal brought up the issue of alleged issue of tampering of EVMs after his party lost the Punjab elections where it had expected to perform much better than what the results were. Similar concerns have been raised by Mayawati and several other prominent figures like Subramaniam Swamy in the past over the safety and misuse of EVMs.
The steps taken by the EC in the Himachal and Gujarat elections have addressed all the major issues and hopefully, we will have fair and square elections in the future.