Cabinet clears to allow use of paper trail machines (20th-April-2017)
The Union Cabinet cleared a proposal of the Election Commission to procure paper trail machines for use during future elections. The decision comes in the wake of growing demands from opposition parties for holding all future elections using paper trail machines along with EVMs, to clear doubts about votes cast.
The clearance was given by the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the proposal of “procurement of VVPAT units” after a brief discussion.
- The EC has sought Rs 3,174 crore in all for procuring over 16 lakh paper trail machines to cover all polling stations in the country.
- The Cabinet has so far cleared two tranches of Rs 1,009 crore and Rs 9,200 for the Commission to buy new electronic voting machines (EVMs).
- Since June, 2014, the Commission has given at least 11 reminders to the government seeking funds for VVPAT machines.
- Last year, Chief Election Commissioner SNA Zaidi had written to the Prime Minister drawing his attention to the funds needed for the machines.
- The Supreme Court has asked the Commission to give a tentative time frame by which it can use VVPAT machines in all polling stations.
- The EC says two PSUs — ECIL and BEL — need 30 months to produce the over 16 lakh VVPATs.
- Sixteen parties had recently petitioned the EC to revert to paper ballot system for greater transparency. The BSP, the AAP and the Congress had attacked the EC on the issue of alleged tampering of EVMs.
- The VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home.
- The voters see voter-verifiable paper audit trail slip for seven seconds, which would be an acknowledgement receipt for the party they voted for in the election.
- The idea of an additional layer of transparency for the satisfaction of voters in the form of a ‘voter verifiable paper trail’ was suggested by the political parties in a meeting taken by the ECI on 4th October, 2010.
- Accordingly, introduction of the VVPAT was facilitated by amending the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 vide Notification dated 14th August, 2013.
- Thereafter, 20,300 VVPAT Units were purchased by the ECI in 2013. Since then, these units are being deployed in elections in select Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies.
- Subsequently, order for 67,000 additional Units was placed in 2015, out of which 33,500 Units have been supplied by the manufacturers. Requisite funds for purchase of the aforesaid number of VVPAT Units were provided by the Government as and when requested by the Election Commission.
- VVPAT device functions like a printer to be attached to the ballot unit and kept inside the voting compartment. When the voter presses the button against the name of the candidate of his choice on the Ballot Unit, the VVPAT unit generates a paper slip, called Ballot Slip.
- This paper slip contains the name, serial number and symbol of the chosen candidate. The voter can see this slip through a screened window where it stays for seven seconds, and then it automatically gets cut and falls down into a sealed drop box.