'We have not forgotten': What Supreme Court said on 'paper ballot' option while hearing EVM-VVPAT case | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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'We have not forgotten': What Supreme Court said on 'paper ballot' option while hearing EVM-VVPAT case

Apr 16, 2024 05:11 PM IST

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and others have approached the Supreme Court seeking cross-verification of the votes cast with VVPAT.

Hearing a clutch of petitions seeking cross-verification of the votes cast with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), the Supreme Court on Tuesday pointed out issues with going back to the paper ballot for voting in general elections.

A bench headed by Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta were hearing the pleas.
A bench headed by Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta were hearing the pleas.

Appearing for the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), senior advocate Prashant Bhushan gave three suggestions to make the voting more transparent, including returning to the paper ballot. The other two options suggested by Bhushan included making the VVPAT glass transparent or giving the slip generated by the VVPAT to the voters who would then put it into the ballot box.

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Read: CPI-ML LS poll manifesto bats for electoral reforms, return to paper ballot

A VVPAT unit produces a paper slip that is visible to the voter via a screen for about seven seconds before it gets stored in a sealed drop box.

“We can go back to paper ballots,” Bhushan said. “Another option is to give VVPAT slip to the voters in hand. Otherwise, the slips fall into the machine and the slip can be then given to the voter and it can be put into the ballot box. Then the VVPAT design was changed, it had to be transparent glass, but it was changed to dark opaque mirror glass where it is only visible when the light is on for second seconds.”

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Justice Sanjiv Khanna replied, “We are in our 60s. We all know what happened when there were ballot papers, you may have, but we have not forgotten.”

The ADR, one of the petitioners, has sought the top court's direction to the Election Commission and the Union government to ensure the voters are able to verify through VVPATs that their vote has been "counted as recorded".

The plea has said the requirement of the voters verifying that their votes have been "recorded as cast" is somewhat met when the VVPAT slip is displayed for about seven seconds after pressing the button on the EVM through a transparent window.

"However, there is a complete vacuum in law as the ECI has provided no procedure for the voter to verify that her vote has been ‘counted as recorded’ which is an indispensable part of voter verifiability. The failure of the ECI to provide for the same is in the teeth of purport and object of the directions issued by this Court in…Subramanian Swamy versus Election Commission of India (2013 verdict)," the plea said.

The next hearing on the matter will be on Thursday.

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