BEFORE THE upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission of India has rejected a total of 3,565 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and 2,594 VVPAT machines in Gujarat after defects were found during the first-level checks (FLC) that were recently conducted across the state.
To replace the defective pieces, the Commission has ordered new VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) machines from the neighbouring state of Rajasthan.
“During the FLCs, a total of 1,154 ballot units and 3,565 control units that make up EVMs were found to be defective. Apart from this, 2,594 VVPATs were also found to be defective. These machines have been sent to BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited) for repairs,” Gujarat’s Chief Electoral Officer S Murali Krishna told The Indian Express.
The Control Unit is the heart of an EVM and remains with the presiding officer or the polling officer, while the Ballot Units are kept within the voting compartment for electors to cast their votes.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that brand new EVMs and VVPATs were allotted by the ECI to Gujarat for the Lok Sabha elections, while older machines used during the 2017 Assembly elections have been sent to Bihar and Kerala for the upcoming polls.
All the EVMs and VVPATs allotted to Gujarat belong to the latest Model 3 (M3) version manufactured by BEL. While the EVMs have been sourced from Bengaluru, the VVPATs were procured from three different manufacturing locations of the company including Bengaluru, Panchkula and Kotdwara.
When asked why defects were found despite brand new machines being given to Gujarat, the official said, “The defects found were clock errors, display errors, and so had to be returned.”
While no new ballot units (BUs) or control units (CUs) have been requisitioned to replace the defective pieces, the EC has sought 2,590 VVPATs from neighbouring Rajasthan. “These machines are of the same M3 version and have been manufactured by BEL,” Murali Krishna said. “This is only the second time we are using VVPATs and so we have asked for more machines. We have more than enough number of BUs and CUs,”Kumar added.
Not counting the defective pieces, Gujarat currently has 79,143 ballot units, 63,406 control units and 66,997 VVPATs.
The CEO said that all political parties in the state have been informed about the defective pieces. In the FLCs before the 2017 Assembly elections in Gujarat, where VVPATs were used across the state for the first time, the EC had found 3,550 VVPATs defective. As many as 5,245 Control Units (from a total of 62,666 units) and 2,907 Ballot Units (from 75,000 units) found defective were returned. Four kinds of machines of BEL and ECIL (Electronics Corporation of India Limited) were used during that election.