50% VVPAT verification will delay Lok Sabha election results by 6 days, ECI tells SC

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  1. In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court, the Election Commission has said that increasing VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) verification to 50% would delay Lok Sabha election results by 6days.
  2. The EC’s affidavit in court came in response to a petition by 21 political parties. The plea had demanded the random verification of at least 50% Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) using VVPAT in every Assembly segment or constituency.
  3. The Election Commission has relied upon a March 22, 2019 report of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) to defend its stand against increasing the VVPAT slips’ counting. The ISI committee was appointed by the EC to devise a ‘scientific formula’ to arrive at the right percentage and sample of VVPAT slips that should be counted
  4. Based on the ISI report, EC has said that current confidence level in the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)-VVPAT accuracy is 99.9936%. Any increase in the sample size of verification of VVPAT slips would only lead to a very negligible gain in the confidence level.
  5. Further, the EC has said increased VVPAT slip counting would require extensive training and capacity building of election officials in the field. It would also require a substantial increase in the number of officials. Also, increased VVPAT slip counting would require large counting halls which is already a major constrain in some states.
  6. Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent system attached to an EVM that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. At present, VVPAT slips in one randomly chosen polling station per constituency are tallied with EVM results.
  7. Before the actual polls, VVPATs and EVMs undergo administrative protocols and procedural safeguards. Each and every EVM and VVPAT is checked once by slip verification during the first level check (FLC).
  8. Thereafter, 5% of the EVMs are selected at random and subjected to higher scrutiny through a mock poll along with slip verification of 1,200 votes for 1%, 1000 votes for 2% and 500 votes for 2% percent of the EVMs. These checks are done the representatives of political parties and candidates.
  9. A second mock poll is carried out during the setting of candidates on the EVMs in the presence of candidates or their representatives.
  10. Finally, a third mock poll is undertaken with slips verification of at least 50 votes on EVMs and VVPATs on the Election Day in the presence of polling agents.