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100% use of VVPAT for General Election 2019

100% use of VVPAT for General Election 2019

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  • GS 2 || Polity || Political Dynamics || Elections

 Why in news?

The EC has announced that there will be 100 per cent use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

 VVPAT

  • VVPAT is an independent system attached to an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.
    • When a vote is cast, a slip is printed on the VVPAT printer containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate voted.
    • This remains visible to you through a transparent window for seven seconds.
    • Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls into a sealed drop box.
    • If need be, these printouts can later be counted.

 Evolution of VVPATs

  • In October 2010, political parties expressed their satisfaction with EVMs, but some parties requested the Commission to consider introducing VVPATs for further transparency and verifiability of the votes cast.
  • The Commission referred the matter to its technical committee on EVMs to examine and make a recommendation to the Commission.
  • In 2011, BEL and ECIL made a prototype of the VVPAT and demonstrated it to the technical committee and the Election Commission.
  • In the same year the Commission conducted simulated elections for the field trial of the VVPAT system in various places including Thiruvananthapuram, Ladakh, Cherrapunji and Jaisalmer.
  • In 2013, the government amended the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 allowing the Commission to use VVPATs along with EVMs.
  • These were first used in the bye-election for the Noksen Assembly seat in Nagaland in 2013.
  • Thereafter VVPATs have been used in select constituencies in every election to the State Assemblies.
  • They were deployed in eight Parliamentary constituencies during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
  • In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, VVPATs will be used in all the constituencies.

 Significance

  • In the world’s largest democracy, every vote counts and the EVMs and VVPATs try and ensure that the massive election process is in tune with the latest technological advancements.
  • Transparency and Reliability: Though the Commission has never doubted the workings of EVMs and their utility in a free and fair electoral process, VVPATs add another layer of transparency and reliability to convince voters about the sanctity of EVMs.
    • EVMs and VVPATs being used in this year’s Lok Sabha elections will ensure that close to 80 crore voters eligible to cast their votes can do so knowing that their votes will go to the candidates of their choice.
  • Time: EVMs and VVPATs also quicken the election process as counting votes on EVMs takes much lesser time than counting paper ballots.
  • Environment-friendly: The EVMs and VVPATs are also environment-friendly as they use very little paper compared to paper ballots.

 Way forward

VVPATs are no guarantee that losing candidates will stop questioning the tamper-proof nature of EVMs, yet the introduction of VVPATs is a significant step by the Election Commission to regain trust and confidence of all stakeholders in the election system in India

 Additional Info

Election Commission

  • The Constitution of India has vested in the Election Commission of India the superintendence, direction and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.
  • Appointment:
    • Art 324 provides for a Chief Election Commissioner to be appointed by the President. He can also appoint any number of Election Commissioners.
    • Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. It currently consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
    • The decisions are arrived at by either consensus or majority in a multi-member Election Commission.
    • There is a provision to appoint Regional Commissioners before each general election to Lok Sabha and State Assembly and before the general election and thereafter before each biennial election to the Legislative Council. The President appoints them in consultation with the Election Commission.
  • Removal:
    • The CEC can be removed only on the same grounds and in the same manner as a judge of the Supreme Court.
    • An Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner can be removed by the President only on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
  • Functions: The Election Commission superintends, directs and controls the elections to Parliament, State Legislatures and Union Territories, Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections. In this regard, it performs the following functions:
    • Preparation of electoral rolls.
    • Conduct of elections.
    • Counting of votes and declaration of results.
    • To advise the President in regard to the question whether a Member of Parliament (Art. 103) or a State Legislature has become subject to any disqualification (Art. 192).
    • To advice the President in the appointment of Regional Commissioner.

 Mains question

  • What is Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)? Critically examine how the 100 per cent use of VVPATs in 2019 Lok Sabha elections will enhance transparency and reliability in the electoral process.