The Election Commission (EC) has successfully matched all the 20,625 VVPAT paper trail with EVMs, at the rate of five EVMs in every assembly segment, as per the judgment dated 8th April of the Supreme Court in the matter of N Chandrababu Naidu V. Union of India. After the relentless tirade against the EC and EVMs, it has turned out that the EVMs have functioned flawlessly.
21 petitioners representing of 21 political parties, claiming to represent 70-75% of the total population of the country and the entire opposition in the Lok Sabha had approached the Supreme Court seeking that a minimum of 50% randomized VVPAT paper slip verification of EVM should be done in the elections. The Supreme Court, while clarifying that it does not doubt the satisfaction of the EC in the fairness of the process or the system in vogue, had directed that five EVMs per Assembly Constituency or Assembly Segments be subjected to verification with VVPAT paper trail, instead of the one EVM. Five EVMs per Assembly Constituency comes to 20,625 VVPATs out of the total of 17.3 lakh VVPATs across the country.
Chief Electoral Officers across states submitted that there wasn’t a single mismatch reported anywhere – a record that has been maintained since VVPATs were first used in 2013-14 on a pilot basis. Initially, there was a report of one mismatch in Andhra Pradesh. However, according to EC spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan, the mismatch in one polling station in Andhra Pradesh was because of “human error”. The most common human error leading to VVPAT mismatch is when a poll officer forgets to clear the mock poll date before the final voting begins.
After the Judgment of 8th April, another petition was filed before the vacation bench seeking 100% VVPAT verification, which was dismissed by the vacation bench terming the petition as “nonsense”. The opposition leaders filed a review against the 8th April Judgment and pleaded through Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi that the 2% fixed earlier (5 EVMs per Assembly Constituency) be increased to 25 or 33%. The review petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent printer like system attached with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. The VVPAT consists of a Printer and a VVPAT Status Display Unit (VSDU). When a vote is cast, a slip is printed on the VVPAT printer containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate for whom the voter has cast his ballot and it can be seen/verified by the voter for 7 seconds through a transparent window Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls in sealed drop box of the VVPAT.