Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

Context: In a recent development, the Supreme Court has decided to address petitions calling for 100% verification of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips before the first phase of voting on April 19, 2024. This decision reflects increasing concerns about electoral transparency and integrity.

• The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine is integrated with the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and serves as a mechanism to visually confirm the vote cast 
• When a voter casts their vote using the EVM, the VVPAT machine prints a paper slip displaying the chosen candidates details.
• This printed slip is briefly shown behind a glass window on the VVPAT machine for 7 seconds, allowing the voter to visually verify 
their choice, before automatically dropping into a sealed compartment below.
• Voters are not permitted to retain the VVPAT slip; instead, it is retained for verification purposes in five randomly selected polling booths.
• The VVPAT system is designed to enhance confidence in the voting process by facilitating physical verification of electronically recorded votes. This helps instill trust among voters and political parties regarding the accuracy and transparency of the electoral process.
• The concept of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine was initially suggested in 2010 during discussions between the Election Commission of India (ECI) and various political parties to enhance transparency in the electoral process utilizing Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
• Subsequently, prototypes of the VVPAT system were developed, and field trials were conducted in several locations including Ladakh, Thiruvananthapuram, Cherrapunjee, East Delhi, and Jaisalmer in July 2011.
• The successful outcomes of these field trials led to the endorsement of the VVPAT system by an expert committee of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in February 2013. This marked a significant step towards incorporating VVPAT technology into Indias electoral practices to bolster voter confidence and enhance transparency.

• In 2013, amendments were made to the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, allowing for the attachment of a printer with a drop box to the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), paving the way for the introduction of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system.
• The VVPAT system was first used in all 21 polling stations of the Noksen Assembly constituency in Nagaland in 2013. Following this successful trial, the Election Commission of India (ECI) decided on its phased implementation, aiming for 100% adoption by June 2017.
• In the case of Subramanian Swamy vs. Election Commission of India in 2013, the Supreme Court mandated the use of VVPATs for transparent elections and compelled government funding for their implementation.
• Subsequently, in 2019, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court requesting a minimum 50% randomised counting of VVPAT slips. However, the Election Commission of India (ECI) raised concerns about this proposal, citing potential challenges such as delays of 5-6 days in declaring election results and infrastructure limitations, including manpower availability.

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