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New Delhi Correspondent
In the run up to the legislative assembly elections in five states in November-December and parliamentary polls next year, India’s Election Commission on Sunday sought to dispel apprehensions among opposition parties about Electronic Voting Machines and said they are “absolutely tamper-proof” and made a robust defence of EVMs over paper ballots.
The EC said in a statement that the use of EVMs “has ended the days of booth-capturing and delays and errors in counting of ballot papers. Also, during the ballot paper era, a large number of votes in each assembly constituency ended up being invalid.”
“There have been instances of invalid votes being higher than even the winning margin in several elections,” according to the statement.
“The EVMs and VVPATS (Voter Verifiable Paper Trail) being used in the Election Commission of India election process are manufactured only at the two premium public sector undertakings–Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) under the technical expertise of an independent Technical Expert Committee and supervision of the Election Commission making them absolutely tamper proof,” The Commission said.
The Commission said EVM and VVPAT inventory “is securely managed through a robust tracking system to track all operations on machine movement, first-level checks, randomization and poll- day defects.
The Election Commission said it is making all arrangements to ensure EVM and VVPAT allocation well in time for the assembly elections across the five states.
It said mandatory first-level checks and training to district officers are also being ensured to meet the requirement of cent percent VVPATs across approximately 10.6 lakh polling stations for the upcoming national election in 2019.
The poll body said it has been consistently reviewing the status of production and supply of EVMs and VVPATs with the ECIL and the BEL. Around22.3 lakh ballot units, 16.3 lakh Control Units and nearly 17.3 lakh VVPATs will be used for the elections in 2019, it added.
Till date, EVMs have been used in India in 113 elections to state assemblies and three parliamentary polls since 2000.
“Addition of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) to the EVM has helped strengthen the voters’ trust and transparency of the voting process,” the Commission said.
A VVPAT is an independent printer system attached with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. VVPAT slips will be visible to the voter for seven seconds behind the transparent screen of VVPAT, before falling into the sealed compartment at the base of the machine.
The Commission said the specially-designed thermal paper to be used in the VVPAT is capable of retaining the printout for more than five years so that the printout is available for manual verification by the Court if required in the event of a dispute for cross checking the counting of votes cast.
So far, VVPATs have been used in 933 state assembly constituencies and 18 parliamentary constituencies, the EC said.
The Commission on Saturday announced the schedule of assembly elections in five states—Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram.