Supreme Court Seeks Election Commission's Response To Plea For Full VVPAT Paper Slip Counting

The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Election Commission concerning a petition that advocates for the complete counting of all Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper slips during elections, as opposed to the current practice of verifying only five randomly selected Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.
EVM

SC notice to EC on plea to count all VVPAT slips

Photo : BCCL
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Election Commission regarding a petition advocating for the counting of all Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper slips in elections, instead of verifying only five randomly selected Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.
A bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta issued the notice to the poll body and combined the plea filed by lawyer and activist Arun Kumar Aggarwal with a similar petition filed by an NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which seeks similar reliefs.
The petition, presented by Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Neha Rathi, challenges the Election Commission's guidelines that require sequential VVPAT verification, causing undue delays. It argues that simultaneous verification and the deployment of more officers for counting in each assembly constituency could allow for complete VVPAT verification in just five to six hours.
Furthermore, the plea highlights that despite significant expenditure on the purchase of nearly 24 lakh VVPATs, only approximately 20,000 VVPAT slips are presently verified. It emphasises the importance of counting all VVPAT slips to ensure voter confidence and proper verification of votes cast.
The verification of VVPAT slips alongside EVMs has consistently been a matter of dispute.
Prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, leaders from approximately 21 opposition parties had petitioned the apex court, urging for the VVPAT verification of at least 50 percent of all EVMs.
At that time, the ECI conducted verification by tallying only one random EVM per assembly segment with VVPAT.
On April 8, 2019, the Supreme Court increased this tally from 1 to 5 and dismissed the plea.
In May 2019, the Court rejected a petition filed by certain technocrats advocating for VVPAT verification of all EVMs.
In July of the following year, the Supreme Court remarked that some public interest litigations (PILs) regarding electoral processes in the country often cast excessive doubt on the integrity of the electoral process.
The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent system for verifying votes, allowing voters to confirm the accuracy of their recorded choices. It produces a paper slip displaying the chosen candidate's name or symbol, visible through a transparent window for a brief period, enabling voters to verify their selections. Subsequently, the paper slips are stored in sealed containers affixed to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), serving as physical records for verification in the event of any discrepancies in electronic voting outcomes.
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