The Election Commission on Wednesday admitted that the delivery of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls had been delayed. It said the delay occurred as a technical experts committee was analysing “technology stabilisation issues” in the VVPAT machines and incorporating design improvements.
However, the poll panel, in a press release, added that the VVPAT machines will be delivered before the end of November. It said that Electronic Voting Machines will be delivered by September 30.
The Election Commission said that it had placed an order for 16.15 lakh VVPAT machines from public sector manufacturers in May 2017. Of these, 5.88 lakh units have been produced till date. The poll panel had told the Supreme Court in April 2017 that all paper trail machines would be delivered by September 2018.
A report in The Indian Express report early on Wednesday had said that a Right to Information query revealed that by June 19, the poll panel had received just 3.48 lakh units of VVPATs out of the 16.15 lakh units it had ordered. In its press release later in the day, the Election Commission said that the RTI reply does not take into account machines received after June 19.
The commission said that Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited, the two firms which are producing the VVPAT machines, have promised to deliver them by the end of November.
The poll panel said that it was constantly monitoring the status of production and supply of the paper trail machines, and that the detailed First Level Checking of both electronic voting machines and VVPATs had already begun.
Aam Aadmi Party demands paper ballots
Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh said on Wednesday evening that ballot paper should be used instead of electronic voting machines in the 2019 General Elections, PTI reported. “If elections are held in say December or January, the Election Commission will not be able to equip all EVMs with VVPATs,” Singh said. “In such a scenario, use of EVMs will mean that every vote goes in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party.”
Singh said he will write to leaders of “like-minded parties” urging them to form an all-party delegation to meet poll panel officials, and demand the use of ballot paper in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Meanwhile, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj claimed that the BJP was “conspiring to win the elections” by using electronic voting machines without VVPAT machines. “It’s a very big conspiracy of the Narendra Modi-led government to ensure a majority for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.