Local Goa News

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Poll panel to use paper audit trail system for Goa elections

Bid to ensure complete transparency to voters and reduce re-polling

PANJIM: For the first time in Goa, the Chief Electoral Office (CEO) has decided to use voter verifiable paper audit trail system (VVPAT), along with electronic voting machines (EVMs), during the state assembly elections scheduled for early next year.
What is a VVPAT: Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is a method of providing feedback to voters. It’s completely an independent verification system. VVPAT is a printer-like machine attached to every EVM that allows voters to verify that their vote has been cast correctly. Once a voter presses button of his choice in the EVM, a printed paper appears containing the name of the candidate and poll symbol so that he can verify it. After the voter views the receipt it goes inside a container linked to the EVM, which can be accessed only by the polling officers. This latest system is one step further towards prevention of electoral fraud.

This is being done to rule out objections raised by parties regarding the EVMs and demand for re-poll.
Joint CEO Narayan Navti said, "During the coming State Assembly elections, we will be using VVPAT along with EVMs, to ensure transparency in the voting process. “Across the country, there have been series of apprehensions about the usage of EVMs. Hence, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided to introduce VVPAT, so that the voter can be absolutely sure of the candidate and party he/she has cast the vote for. The EVMs will be used to cast the vote while VVPAT will be used to confirm the same by providing a slip to the voter leaving no doubt about his/her secret ballot,” the officer explained.
Navti said the ECI has provided training to its officials from each State about the system. “Currently, there are 142 VVPAT machines with the CEO,” he said.
Goa, with 40 Assembly constituencies, has 1,642 election centres. “On an average, we will require 1,650- 1,700 VVPAT machines,” he said.


History behind VVPAT System
n During an All Party Meeting in 2010, political parties floated the suggestion of incorporating VVPAT along with the EVMs. Based on the suggestion, an Expert Committee was called into action to examine the possibility of a paper trail. The election commission also asked Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) to create a prototype of VVPAT system.
n As per the Technical Experts Committee’s recommendation, the system was field tested across five states in July 2011. Years later, the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to introduce the VVPAT system during the 2014 general elections to ensure free and fair polls. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has been advocating the use of such a device and it’s on the basis of his plea that the court ordered the commission to ensure that EVMs have a paper trail system. Moreover, there had been a spate of protests over the vulnerability of EVMs.

Introduction of VVPAT System
The Election Commission has been planning to introduce VVPAT system since 2011 when it started exploring the possibility of conducting first field trials. Although the system was first experimented during the Nagaland by-elections in 2013, Mizoram was the first state to introduce VVPAT on a large scale. It was used in 10 assembly constituencies of Aizawl district. On a national level, the system was introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies during the 2014 general elections. It was used in 516 polling stations across eight states.

Herald Goa News

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