The Election Commission’s maiden effort to field Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines along with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) turned out to be a major problem during the voting in Punjab Assembly elections on Saturday, with complaints about non-functional machines pouring in from several districts leading to delay in polling. “A total of 6668 VVPAT machines were fielded in these polls. Providing technical support for the machines which developed technical faults was a challenge due to the limited number of technicians available. It was a constant headache to deal with VVPAT complaints. However, despite the hiccups, the poll was successfully conducted,” said V K Singh, Punjab’s CEO.
VVPAT machines were fielded in 33 of the total of 117 constituencies in the state as a pilot project. The machines, which provide a paper printout to enable a voter to see if the vote cast by him on the EVM has gone to the candidate intended for, had been fielded for the first time in the country following directions from the Supreme Court to ensure free and fair polls.
The polling was majorly affected in Majitha constituency due to the technical fault in the VVPAT machines, prompting AAP to complain to the CEO and ask him to extend the time of the polling. The other districts where VVPAT machines caused delays in polling were Sangrur, Muktsar, Bathinda and Barnala. The CEO said a total of 725 machines developed fault, of which 538 were replaced during the mock poll carried out before the polling commenced and 187 were replaced after polling started.