The Election Commission has started the process of procuring Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) devices for the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections. A total of 70,000 VVPATs will be procured from 11 different states and two public sector units —Bangalore-based Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Hyderabad-based Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL). “The logistic process of procuring the EVMs and VVPATs has begun for the Gujarat polls. On Tuesday, the first team from the state left for Punjab to procure EVMs, “In this election, we will not be using any EVM machine which has been manufactured before 2006,” said BB Swain, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Gujarat, while adding that the EC has decided to phase-out the older machines. “Secondly, this will also be the first time machines manufactured by ECIL will be used in a poll in Gujarat. We have always been using BEL equipment,” he added.
Gujarat will only be second state to use VVPATs in all it’s 182 assembly constituencies after Goa, where the device was used in all 40 constituencies earlier this year. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Gandhinagar was the only constituency where VVPATs were used and no complaints or break-downs was reported.
Over 4.27 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise in 48,000 polling booths in Gujarat later this year. However, the state currently has no VVPAT machines in it’s possession, while it has only 15,774 Control Units (CUs) and 1,577 Ballot Units (BUs) which are two important parts of an EVM. “A total of 70,000 VVPATs have been allotted for the Gujarat elections. A total of 46,000 brand new VVPAT devices will be coming directly from the two manufacturers BEL and ECIL. The first lot of these new machines will arrive only by the middle of August,” Swain said.
The remaining 24,000 VVPATs will be procured from 11 states which includes Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa and Karnataka. Meanwhile, the necessary EVMs for the polls which includes 86,769 BUs and 57,312 CUs will be sourced from four states: Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
“The EVMs and VVPATs will be brought to Gujarat in GPS-enabled trucks from 80-plus districts spread across the country. Security will be provided by all the states, through which these vehicles will pass,” the EC official added. The EC is planning to begin the “first level checks” of all the procured EVMs and VVPAT devices from August 10 onwards, during which the machines will be opened, the old data wiped off and physical components thoroughly checked.
“We will also need to train our electoral staff in using VVPATs as they will be using it for the first time. We also need to hold mock-trails using these devices,” Swain added.
# 70,000 VVPATs allotted by EC
# EVMs manufactured before 2006 not to be used in polls
# 46,000 brand new VVPATs to come from BEL & ECIL, rest to come from 11 states
# Gujarat to source EVMs which includes 86769 Ballot Units and 57312 Control units from 4 states
# ECIL machines to be used for first time in Gujarat polls
# Devices to be brought to Gujarat in GPS-enabled trucks
# First level checks on EVMs and VVPATs to be conducted from Aug 10