The Election Commission will get 30,000 new paper trail machines in July, augmenting its present stock to a level where it can deploy these units in all polling stations during the assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year.
“We have 53,500 VVPAT machines. In the next three months, we will get 30,000 new machines. Nearly 84,000 units are sufficient for use in all polling stations in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh,” a Commission official said. The poll watchdog will make a formal announcement that VVPAT machines will be used in all polling stations in the two states when the poll schedule will be announced. While the term of the 182-member Gujarat assembly is ending on January 22 next year, the term of the 68-member Himachal Pradesh assembly will end on January 7. Going by the precedents, the elections could be held in December this year.
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) unit is linked to the electronic voting machine which allows an elector to confirm whether the EVM has properly registered his vote given to a particular candidate. The Electronics Corporation of India Limited and the Bharat Electronics Limited manufacture EVMs and VVPATS for the Commission.
For the EC to allow the use of VVPATs in all polling stations in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it needs 16,15,000 more such machines. Several parties have been pressing for the use of these machines to dispel doubts about EVM tampering. 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 poll panel had ordered for 67,000 additional paper trail units in 2015, out of which 33,500 have been supplied, according to the Law Ministry.