The Election Commission will tally paper trail slips with the results of electronic voting machines in 5% of polling stations in each seat for both Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. However, polling officials will count the paper trail slips in not more than 14 randomly-selected booths. The decisions were taken by the poll monitoring body on Wednesday.
This new process is likely to delay the announcement of election results by three hours, according to the Election Commission. “It takes about three hours to count the printed ballot slips of one VVPAT,” an official told The Indian Express. “It was felt that delaying the announcement of results by more than three hours would not be advisable. So a maximum limit of 14 and a minimum limit of five polling stations has been imposed.”
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. 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 had to sign an undertaking, while the final decision to count the slips was upto the returning officer at the booth.
During an all party meeting on May 12, 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.