The move by the Election Commission (EC) to introduce voter-verifiable paper-trail (VVPAT) machines in 33 assembly segments in Punjab has run into a technical hurdle: 35% of machines selected for the February 4 Punjab assembly elections are not functioning properly.
In all, 6,500 VVPAT machines are to be used, not only for 33 of the 117 assembly constituencies but also in two segments in the Amritsar Lok Sabha segment where bypoll is to be held on the same day.
It is a pilot project for the plan to use these machines in all segments in the Lok Sabha polls due in 2019.
To cut the risk of malfunction or fraud, the machine shows a pop-up receipt for 10 seconds to verify that the vote has actually gone in favour of the candidate intended. The snag was reported to chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi by an election observer, and so far there has been no reply.
“Tests on the machines are carried out on location, and such large-scale snags are a cause of worry,” said a senior election officer from Punjab, adding that so far there are no orders whether to go ahead with the installation of these machines or not. The Election Commission of India is banking on these machines for smooth conduct of polls particulary in constituencies where top leaders are contesting.
Apart from all 22 constituencies in district headquarters, these would installed in Lambi, Jalalabad, Majitha, Bholath, Bathinda Urban and Rural, Atam Nagar, Ludhiana North, Rampura Phul, Qadian and Chabbewal.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission on Thursday issued guidelines to ensure prohibitions during the period of 48 hours beginning 5pm on Thursday until the conclusion of assembly polls on February 4 in to the District Election officers.