April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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SUPREME COURT NOTICE TO EC REGARDING CROSS-VERIFICATION OF EVM AND VVPAT COUNTS

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TAG: GS 2: POLITY

THE CONTEXT: The Supreme Court of India has issued a notice to the Election Commission (EC) in response to a writ petition filed. The petition seeks a directive to mandatorily cross-verify the count in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with votes recorded in Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips.

EXPLANATION:

  • The petitioner argues for a comprehensive count of VVPAT slips in elections, contrasting with the current practice of verifying only five randomly selected EVMs through VVPAT paper slips.
  • They challenge the EC’s guideline mandating sequential VVPAT verification, asserting that this causes undue delays.
  • The petition proposes simultaneous VVPAT verification by deploying additional personnel for counting in each constituency, suggesting that this approach could streamline the verification process to be completed within five to six hours.
  • The petitioner highlights the significant investment made by the government in purchasing VVPATs but notes the discrepancy in the number of VVPAT slips verified compared to the total number of VVPATs procured.
  • The petitioner emphasizes the concerns raised by experts regarding VVPATs and EVMs, pointing out past instances of substantial discrepancies between EVM and VVPAT vote counts.
  • To address these concerns, the petition suggests allowing voters to physically deposit VVPAT slips into a ballot box to ensure that each vote is accurately recorded.
  • Alternatively, they propose making the glass of the VVPAT machine transparent and extending the duration of the light to allow voters to witness the paper recording their votes being cut and dropped into the drop box.

Legal Implications

  • By issuing a notice to the EC, the Supreme Court has initiated legal proceedings to consider the petitioner’s arguments and proposed solutions.
  • The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the electoral process in India, potentially impacting the transparency and integrity of elections.

Electronic Voting Machine:

  • EVM is a device used to record votes electronically.
  • They were first used in the Paravur Assembly Constituency of Kerala in the year 1982.
  • Since 1998, the Election Commission has increasingly used EMVs instead of ballot boxes.
  • In 2003, all state elections and by-elections were held using EVMs.
  • Encouraged by this, in 2004, the Commission took a historic decision to use only EVMs for the Lok Sabha elections.
  • EVMs eliminate the occurrence of ‘Invalid Votes’ seen frequently with paper ballots, ensuring a more accurate reflection of voter choice and reducing complaints and legal disputes.
  • EVMs streamline the voting process, making it faster and more efficient. They eliminate the need for manual counting, reducing the time required to declare election results.

Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT):

  • A VVPAT was first used in Noksen (Assembly Constituency) of Nagaland in September 2013.
  • On a large scale, VVPAT along with EVMs, used for the first time in India in the 2013 Mizoram Legislative Assembly election, in 10 assembly seats out of 40.
  • By using a ballotless voting system it provides feedback to voters.
  • It is an independent verification system for voting machines as it allows voters to verify whether their vote was cast correctly or not.
  • It also detects malfunction or possible election fraud and acts as a means of an audit tool for the stored electronic results by enabling electronic voting machines to record each vote cast by generating the EVM slip.

SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/elections/sc-notice-to-ec-on-plea-to-cross-verify-evm-and-vvpat-counts/article68016889.ece/amp/

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