2 Apr 2024

Supreme Court Seeks Response from Election Commission Regarding Full Count of VVPAT Slips

The Supreme Court has made a significant move by seeking responses from both the Election Commission and the Centre regarding a petition urging for a comprehensive count of VVPAT slips in elections, in contrast to the current practice of verifying only five randomly selected EVMs through VVPAT paper slips. 

VVPAT, or Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, enables voters to confirm if their vote was registered accurately by producing a paper slip for verification. These slips are securely stored and can be accessed in case of disputes.

Previously, on April 8, 2019, the Supreme Court had instructed the Election Commission to increase the number of EVMs subject to VVPAT verification from one to five per assembly segment in a parliamentary constituency.

Acknowledging the arguments presented by activist Arun Kumar Agrawal's legal representatives, Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Neha Rathi, the bench of justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta issued notices to the Election Commission and the central government. The case is expected to be heard on May 17.

The plea suggests that by conducting simultaneous verification and deploying additional officers for counting in each assembly constituency, complete VVPAT verification could be completed within five to six hours. Despite the considerable investment of around Rs 5,000 crore in nearly 24 lakh VVPATs by the government, currently, only approximately 20,000 VVPAT slips are verified.

Considering the ongoing debate among experts regarding VVPATs and EVMs, coupled with numerous reported discrepancies between EVM and VVPAT vote counts in the past, the plea asserts the necessity of counting all VVPAT slips. It proposes that voters should have the opportunity to physically confirm that their vote has been accurately recorded by allowing them to deposit their VVPAT slips in the ballot box.

The Supreme Court has issued the notice and connected it with existing cases concerning the matter.

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