Opposition Seek ECI Appointment for VVPAT Discussion
A key Indian opposition bloc recently sought 100% verification of paper trail slips from electronic voting machines, reigniting debate on balancing transparency and pragmatism.
What is VVPAT?
The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system aims to bring more transparency to polling. A paper slip is printed with the voter’s selection that remains briefly viewable for individual verification before dropping into a sealed box attached to the ballot unit. This can later be tallied against captured electronic counts.
Genesis of the System
VVPATs emerged post 2010 consultations on boosting voting method trustworthiness with political parties and technical experts. Trusted by default since 2013, the machines became universal from 2017. Over 118 crore citizens have elected their representatives using the combined EVMs and VVPATs till date.
Current Audit Practice and Norms
Currently the Election Commission verifies VVPAT slips from 5 randomly pre-selected booths per assembly seat, totaling over 20,000 checks for Lok Sabha and state polls. This figure determined by statistics authority exam exceeds the minimum suggested sample size.
No vote transfer discrepancies between EVM results and VVPAT counts have occurred so far, only minor human errors like undeleted test votes occasionally detected. This robust protocol balances transparency needs with logistical viability.
Opposition Demand for Total Checks
However, recent demands want physical slips from 100% of the nearly 20 lakh EVMs tallying votes each election to be verified. Their proposal also suggests dispensing paper proof directly into a ballot box post verification by voters instead of the attached secure drop box.
EC Response and Concerns
But the Election Commission has opposed blanket checks as a logistical nightmare potentially taking days while risking accidental counting errors. Full paper matching equals abandoning efficiencies of electronic systems altogether, taking polling back decades it argues.
It says current protocol drawing from expert statistics advice already constitutes a sizeable audit sample countering doubts. Further, voters can already see selections reflecting correctly for themselves instilling individual confidence.
Potential Solutions and the Way Forward
Innovations like database integration between EVM and VVPAT could allow targeted verification of say anomalous booths reflecting very close contests. Regulators and parties working jointly can keep improving framework versatility while retaining scale strengths.
Overall India’s EVM-VVPAT combination has revolutionized voting ease and trustworthiness since implementing visionary reforms like the Model Code of Conduct. Further advancements balancing integrity and pragmatism must continue upholding these gains.
Category: India Nation & States Current Affairs