Despite using brand new EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) and VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) during the Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat, paper slips of 351 VVPAT machines had to be manually counted on May 23 as the Control Units (CUs) of EVMs failed to display results due to “technical reasons”.
A total of 1,305 VVPATs were manually counted in polling booths where Lok Sabha polls for 26 seats were held. Apart from the 351 VVPATs counted where CUs malfunctioned, 29 VVPATs were counted in polling booths where mock-poll data were not erased. Another 929 VVPATs were counted in accordance with the Election Commission rule that VVPAT slips of five polling booths in each assembly constituency must be cross-checked with the EVM results.
In Porbandar and Panchmahal seats, slips from 23 VVPATs were counted, in Banaskantha 20, and in Junagadh, Vadodara and Surat constituencies, 18 each.
Asked about the failure of a large number of machines in Gujarat, despite them being brand new, S Murali Krishna, Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat said, “We have submitted a report to the Election Commission of India in Delhi.”
In addition to control units that failed to display results on counting day, as many as 1,533 VVPATs and 800 EVMs malfunctioned on polling day, April 23, and had to be replaced. The Indian Express had also reported that during the checks conducted before polls in February, a total of 3,565 EVMs and 2,594 VVPATs were rejected for defects.
In the cases of presiding officers having failed to delete mock poll results, the paper slips of 25 VVPATs were counted — Kheda (4), Ahmedabad-West (3), Valsad (3) Panchmahal (2) Vadodara (2), Bharuch (2), Chhota Udepur 2), Patan (one), Mehsana (1), Gandhinagar (1), Ahmedabad-East (1), Surendranagar (1), Rajkot (1) and Junagadh (1).
On polling day, mock-polls are conducted where 50 votes are cast in the EVM before actual polling begins. This is done to check that the machine is in order. These votes are to be deleted by the presiding officer from the EVM and the VVPAT slips cleared from the VVPAT machine, before actual polling begins. That was not done in these cases.
In the bypolls to four Assembly constituencies — Jamnagar Rural, Dhrangadhra, Manavadar and Unjha — 24 VVPATs’ slips were counted. In four of these cases, it was due to control unit malfunction. The remaining 20 were counted as part of the mandatory Election Commission rule.