Election Commission rejects Opposition demand to tweak VVPAT counting process
The three-member Election Commission has rejected the demand from 22 political parties to make last-minute changes to the way votes will be counted on Thursday, according to news agency ANI.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had taken up the opposition demand to change the protocol for counting at his meeting with election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. Leaders of 22 political parties had yesterday approached the commission to demand that paper slips from the VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) module are matched before the counting begins so that in cases of discrepancy, all votes in that particular assembly segment can be cross-checked with the paper slips.
At present, the counting will involve the matching of paper slips in five polling booths picked at random for each assembly segment towards the end of counting.
Opposition leaders had indicated that they weren’t very hopeful that the poll panel would fix the discrepancies hours before the counting process is to begin, not when it had chosen to ignore the suggestions for months.
“We raised these same issues in last one and half months. Why did they not respond?” asked Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi who called the suggestion to first verify the VVPAT paper slips a “no-brainer”.
In their memorandum to the panel, the parties had said that in order to make the process more transparent, paper slips must be counted first and if there is a discrepancy with what is shown digitally on the machines, then all votes – instead of the 5% the EC has decided to at present – in the assembly segment of that parliamentary constituency should be cross-checked.
Election official cite existing orders to point out that in case there is any mismatch between electronic candidate-wise result of the Control Unit and the candidate-wise VVPAT slips manual count, recounting of the VVPAT slips of that particular VVPAT shall be conducted till the recount is tallied with the EVM count or one of the previous VVPAT slips count
In cases where mock-poll data was not erased from EVMs by election officials, those units will be kept aside and only VVPAT slips will be referred to during the counting.