Poll panel picks Sheila constituency for pilot project on paper trail

The Election Commission has decided to launch the voter verifiable paper audit trail in electronic voting machines as a pilot project in Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s New Delhi constituency for the Assembly elections on December 4.

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published:October 21, 2013 2:32 am

The Election Commission has decided to launch the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) in electronic voting machines (EVMs) as a pilot project in Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s New Delhi constituency for the Assembly elections on December 4.

The pilot project is in line with a directive of the Supreme Court,which has ordered implementation of VVPAT in a phased manner before the 2014 general elections to ensure transparency.

The law ministry amended the Conduct of Election Rules,1961,on August 14 to facilitate the introduction of the VVPAT system on a large scale.

Under the amended rules,a VVPAT “or a printer unit” will be attached to the EVM. After casting a vote,the voter will be able to “view through a transparent window” of the printer a printed paper slip,showing the “serial number,name and symbol of the candidate for whom he has cast his vote”.

So a voter will be able to verify by if the vote has been correctly registered for the candidate he voted for.

However,for security reasons,voters won’t get a receipt as proof of their having voted and who they voted for.

After a voter has seen it,the receipt gets deposited inside a container linked to the EVM,and can only be accessed by election officers in the rarest of rare cases under the directions of the Chief Electoral Officer. A decoding system will be used if the poll process at a station is challenged.

The New Delhi Assembly constituency has 186 polling stations and 1,18,596 voters.

“The Election Commission has decided to use VVPAT for the first time in Delhi during the upcoming Assembly elections. New Delhi Assembly constituency-40 has been chosen for the trial,” Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Dev said.

While Delhi has EVMs that were manufactured before 2006,VVPAT machines are compliant with EVMS acquired after 2006.

To this effect,Dev said the EC has issued orders to get compliant EVMs from Uttar Pradesh. The VVPAT machines will come from Bangalore.

The task ahead for the EC,however,“is a onerous one” to make the over 13-lakh EVMs in the country VVPAT-compliant before the 2014 general elections. The cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 1,700 crore.

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