Poll panel gives nod to EVM paper trail, Nagaland bypoll in Sept to be first test

Eci

For the first time, the Election Commission has given the go-ahead to attach a device with electronic voting machines which will leave a verifiable paper trail of votes cast in an election. Called Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, it will be used in Nagaland's Noksen (ST) assembly constituency where bypoll is scheduled for September 4.

The new system will record on paper each vote cast. Also, it will allow the voter to check whether his vote has been recorded with the candidate he had wished to vote for in the EVM. Candidates can apply for counting of the paper slips on which the votes are recorded.

The commission's decision to use VVPAT system comes after the Ministry of Law and Justice issued a notification on August 14, making an amendment to the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, providing that a printer with a drop box of such design, as may be approved by Election Commission, may be attached to a voting machine for printing a paper trail of the vote.

Election Commissioner Dr Nasim Zaidi told The Sunday Express, "After seeing the response in Noksen bypoll, use of VVPAT will be started in other upcoming elections in a phased manner because huge production of paper trailing machines would be required."

The poll panel has issued directives to hold special meetings with the contesting candidates in Noksen constituency to brief them about the new system. Special training session for poll officers about use of VVPAT will also be organised soon and steps taken to educate the electors too.

In VVPAT system, after casting the vote by pressing the button in EVM, the elector will be able to view through a transparent window of the printer, kept along with the balloting unit inside the voting compartment, the printed paper slip showing the serial number, name and the symbol of the candidate for whom he had cast his vote before such paper slip gets cut and drops in the drop box of the printer.

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