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VVPAT cross-verification: SC asks Election Commission to investigate Prashant Bhushan's allegations

An ECI official appeared before the Supreme Court bench, currently hearing pleas for cross-verification of votes cast with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines. The official provided insights into the functioning of EVMs and VVPATs as the hearing continued.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 New Delhi Updated on: April 18, 2024 16:41 IST
lok sabha elections 2024
Image Source : PTI/FILE PHOTO Supreme Court building and EVMs and VVPATs being transported through Air Force helicopters.

In response to advocate Prashant Bhushan’s allegation during a mock poll in Kasaragod, Kerala, the Supreme Court has directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to probe the claim that four Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) recorded one extra vote for the BJP. The Supreme Court emphasised the importance of maintaining the sanctity of the electoral process and ensuring that all procedures are followed meticulously to dispel any doubts or apprehensions.

The Supreme Court directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and provide detailed insights into measures taken for free and fair polls. Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta emphasized the importance of electoral sanctity during the hearing of petitions requesting cross-verification of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) votes with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips.

Concerns raised by petitioners

Advocates representing the petitioners, including Nizam Pasha and Prashant Bhushan, raised concerns about voter privacy and the transparency of the voting process. They advocated for allowing voters to retain VVPAT slips and ensuring continuous illumination of the VVPAT machine during the voting process.

Calls for enhanced accountability

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde highlighted the need for separate audits to enhance the credibility of the counting process. He stressed the importance of addressing concerns raised in reports, such as the alleged discrepancies in mock poll results in Kerala.

Election Commission’s explanation

The ECI provided insights into the voting process, explaining that VVPAT slips are visible to voters for seven seconds before being sealed in a box. They assured that voting machines undergo rigorous mock polls and are securely stored in strongrooms with political party representatives’ oversight.

Securing the voting process

The ECI affirmed the integrity of the voting machines, emphasizing that the firmware cannot be altered and stringent security measures are in place to prevent tampering. They reiterated the importance of maintaining the secrecy of the vote and outlined procedures for strongroom sealing and opening.

Understanding VVPAT and the case

Voter Verified Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT) enables voters to verify if their vote was accurately cast and provides a paper record for dispute resolution. Amid concerns over the EVM system, the petitions advocate for cross-verification of all votes to ensure transparency and accountability in the electoral process.

 

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