Voters in around 20,000 polling stations in the coming Lok Sabha elections will be able to see, for at least seven seconds, a paper printout showing the name and the symbol of the candidate they vote for.
Having tested it in a limited manner in a few Assembly elections last year, the Election Commission of India plans to use the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in a much wider fashion during the coming general elections, hoping to credibly tackle the lingering suspicions about the veracity of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
According to sources in the EC, both Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) are set to deliver 10,000 VVPAT machines each. The EC plans to use these machines in the Northeast — “since most of the vociferous demands for their deployment has come from these states” — as well as several sensitive constituencies in states like UP and Bihar.
Priced at around Rs 20,000 per unit, the VVPAT can be easily connected to the EVM and generates an immediate paper trail once the vote is cast. Its design will ensure that the voter cannot physically access the paper slip.
“We will be preserving the paper slips to deal with the petitions that may arise after the polls. Since petitions can sometimes take a few years to be settled, we are going to use a special high quality paper that will retain the printed information for at least five years,” said a senior EC official.