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Supreme Court Seeks Clarity on EVM-VVPAT System to Ensure Electoral Integrity

The Supreme Court of India, heard in length the issues raised on VVPAT and EVM, just before the first phase of voting was to start on April 19. The court has asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) to explain how the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system work together. This move emphasizes the critical importance of maintaining the integrity and transparency of the electoral process.

Advocate Nizam Pasha, representing one of the petitioners, argued that voters should be allowed to retain the VVPAT slip after casting their vote and deposit it in a separate ballot box.

He asserted that this step would safeguard voters’ rights, even though it might raise concerns about compromising voter privacy.

“This is (an) electoral process. There has to be sanctity. Let nobody have apprehension that something which is expected is not being done,” the bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna said.

Advocate Nizam Pasha, representing one of the petitioners, stated that a voter should be allowed to take the VVPAT slip after casting their vote and deposit it in a ballot box. Following this, Justice Khanna questioned if such a process would affect the voter’s privacy. In response, advocate Pasha replied, “Voter privacy cannot be used to defeat voter’s rights.”

The Election Commission clarified its procedures, stating that before EVMs are stored in the strong room, they undergo mock polling. This process involves representatives from all political parties and ensures the proper functioning of the machines.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde suggested implementing a separate audit to enhance the credibility of the counting process. This proposal aims to address concerns raised about the accuracy and reliability of election results.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan highlighted a specific case from Kerala. In this case, discrepancies were detected in mock poll results, and extra votes were recorded for the BJP. This underscores the need for closer scrutiny and vigilance in the electoral process.

The petitions under consideration by the court seek to cross-verify votes cast on EVMs with VVPAT paper slips. This discussion occurs just before the commencement of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. It raises significant questions about the transparency and fairness of the electoral system.


Know About VVPAT:

The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is a mechanism designed to provide feedback to voters in a voting system without traditional paper ballots.

It enables voters to verify that their votes have been accurately recorded. Additionally, it allows them to detect any potential malfunctions or fraud. Moreover, it provides the capability to independently audit electronic voting results.

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