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EC dispatches teams to study abnormally high cases of VVPAT failure

The election commission deputed two teams to Kairana in UP and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra to find reasons for “abnormally high” cases of defects in VVPATs during bypolls on May 28. The teams will have to submit their report by June 5.

india Updated: May 31, 2018 21:18 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
election commission,Kairana,Bhandara-Gondiya
The election commission had to order repoll in 49 polling stations across five assembly segments in Bhandara-Gondiya and 74 booths in Kairana due to VVPAT failure.(HT/Photo for representation)

The election commission (EC) on Thursday deputed two teams to Kairana in Uttar Pradesh and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra to find the reasons for the “abnormally high” cases of defects and failure in VVPATs, or voter verifiable paper trial machines during bypolls on May 28.

The teams will have to submit their report by June 5.

After voting was delayed by several hours in many polling stations in these constituencies, the commission ordered a repoll in 49 polling stations across five assembly segments in Bhandara-Gondiya and 74 booths in Kairana.

By-election results
Voting was held on May 28 for four Lok Sabha and 10 assembly constituencies
LOK SABHA
ConstituencyWinsHeld by
Kairana (Uttar Pradesh)RLDBJP
Palghar (Maharashtra)BJPBJP
Bhandara- Gondiya (Maharashtra)NCPBJP
NagalandNDPPNPF
ASSEMBLY
ConstituencyWinsHeld by
Noorpur (Uttar Pradesh)SPBJP
Shahkot (Punjab)CongressSAD
Jokihat (Bihar)RJDJD(U)
Gomia (Jharkhand)JMMJMM
Silli (Jharkhand)JMMJMM
Chengannur (Kerala)CPI(M)CPI(M)
Palus Kadegaon (Maharashtra)CongressCongress
Ampati (Meghalaya)CongressCongress
Tharali (Uttarakhand)BJPBJP
Maheshtala (West Bengal)TMCTMC

According to an official aware of the developments, the teams with officials from the commission as well as the state commission, will also include a representative from ECIL, the company that manufactures these VVPAT and electronic voting machines.

VVPAT machines allow voters to see who they have voted for, flashing the results for seven seconds on a slip that is stored inside the machine and later used to tally votes that are recorded in the EVMs. The teams have been asked to ascertain and analyse the factors that may have contributed to the failure of the machines.

The teams will also cite the nature of complaints and the general conditions under which the VVPATs were operated at the polling booths.

They will also analyse the steps taken by the engineers and the technical staff at the site to rectify the snags that were reported.

Since the commission had earlier said that the machines could have developed snags because the electoral staff did not follow the procedure for the use of machines, the teams have been asked to verify if the staff had adequate.

Referring to the snags that were reported during the May 28 bypolls, the official quoted above said VVPATs were sensitive to light as they have contrast sensors and when exposed to direct sunlight, they can malfunction.

Feedback from the teams will be used for training the staff ahead of the upcoming state assembly elections as well as the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, another official said.

Use of VVPATs along with EVMs has been made mandatory for all state assembly and general elections. The VVPATs are used to enhance transparency and increase voter confidence in the voting system that is carried out through electronic machines.

The poll panel has also assuaged fears of rigging of EVMs by pointing out that VVPAT machines allow voters to see who they have voted for.

In the May 28 bypolls held across 10 states, 1,202 VVPATs were required to be replaced

First Published: May 31, 2018 18:35 IST