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VVPAT to be tested in State during Nanded civic poll

Published On : 05 Oct 2017   |  Reported By : Courtesy: The Hindu   |  Pic On: Photo credit : The Hindu

Mumbai, (The Hindu): The State Election Commission on Wednesday said Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines would be used in ward no. 2 during the elections on October 11 to the Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation (NWMC).

State Election Commissioner J.S. Saharia said VVPAT machines will be attached to Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and used in ward number 2 on a pilot basis. He said this would be the first instance of VVPATs being used in Maharashtra. Counting will be held on October 12 and will be done twice: once through the EVMs and once using VVPAT machines, he said. The corporation has 3.96 lakh registered voters.

Nanded is the home turf of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. The Congress, with 41 members, had held sway in the outgoing civic body.

Feedback to be analysed

Mr. Saharia said the Nanded civic body has received 70 VVPAT machines. “We had placed an order for 400 VVPAT machines with the Electronics Corporation of India (ECI), which they could not fulfil due to technical difficulties. However, they requested us to use 70 machines on an experimental basis, to which we have agreed.”

Ward number two has 37 booths, and each booth will have a spare machine, he said. “The ward has four seats, and each voter will have to vote in all four elections before leaving the booth. A paper trail of votes cast will be stored in a box. For this ward, we will be counting votes on paper to match them with those on the machine.” He said feedback from this pilot project will be analysed, and a decision to use them in other elections will be taken.

In all, Nanded has 20 wards with 81 seats. On October 11, 20,307 voters will exercise their franchise in Ward number two. On average. 550 voters are expected in each of the 37 polling booths. “VVPAT is an answer to allegations that the EVMs are not foolproof. If numbers on both the VVPAT and EVMs machine match, it will help counter claims that EVMs can be tampered with.”

VVPAT machines were used in all 40 Assembly constituencies in Goa during the elections held recently, in 33 Assembly segments in Punjab and for the Bawana bypoll in New Delhi. Political parties, especially the Aam Adami Party (AAP), has been demanding VVPAT machines, which they say will bring in transparency.

In October 2013, the Supreme Court had directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to begin using VVPAT machines in a phased manner in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. To adhere to the SC order, the State Election Commission has introduced the machines for the Nanded civic polls. “We will keep a watch on the counting process using VVPAT; later, these machines will be returned to the ECI,” Mr. Saharia said.

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