The Election Commission on Friday said that a percentage of slips from voter-verifiable paper audit trails from random polling booths will be subjected to counting. The percentage has not yet been determined by the commission. The commission also said all future elections will be conducted using the VVPATs, which give voters a slip indicating their choice in the polls.
“VVPAT slips of EVMs upto a definite percentage, which will be determined by the commission, will be subjected to counting,” said Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi after an all-party meeting in New Delhi.
So far, VVPAT slips can only be counted in cases of voter complaints, where the slips have showed an error. In such cases, the voters have also also had to sign an undertaking, while the final decision to count the slips was upto the returning officer at the booth. This provision still exists. However, with the announcement, random booths can now be subject to scrutiny, which was never the case before.
Slips from VVPAT machines are usually not counted. The machines simply provide voters with a printout of the choice they have made, to avoid any confusion.
During the all party meeting on Friday, some political parties had asked the EC to do away with EVMs and conduct elections through ballot paper, while some had recommended reforms in the VVPAT system. The recommendations include conducting all future polls with VVPATs, increasing the slip display time from seven seconds to at least 15 seconds and subjecting a certain percentage of the machines in all constituencies to counting (and tallying them with votes cast through the concerned EVM). The recommended percentage varied between 15 and 25.