Poll panel begins VVPAT test drive for Delhi’s voters ahead of Lok Sabha elections
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Poll panel begins VVPAT test drive for Delhi’s voters ahead of Lok Sabha elections

The programme will see a truck that will be driven around the parliamentary constituencies of Delhi to spread awareness among voters on the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPATs.

lok sabha elections Updated: Jan 10, 2019 15:29 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
EC,VVPAT,EVM
A truck with an EVM and VVPAT on board will be stationed outside polling booths to educate voters.(HT Photo )

With the Election Commission of India announcing that it would introduce voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines in the coming general elections, the state election commission on Wednesday began a unique programme — ‘democarcy on wheels’.

The programme will see a truck that will be driven around the parliamentary constituencies of Delhi to spread awareness among voters on the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPATs.

The vehicle will be stationed at polling station locations, public places such as malls, colleges and street corners. On board will be an EVM and VVPAT that voters will be allowed to test.

Also, wherever the vehicle moves, a nukkad natak or street play will also be performed on the awareness theme.

The awareness drive will go on till February-end, said officials.

At present the programme is being executed in the East and Shahdara districts, while other districts will soon follow.

The move has come after the Election Commission of India announced in August 2018 that it is ready for 100% use of VVPAT machines --- that allow voters to double check whether their vote has been cast in favour of the candidate intended. So far these machines were used only in some polling stations to check for any possibility of electoral rigging.

Inside the vehicle are solgans that read “Note asli hai ya nakli hum do bar check karte hai …..Ab matdan ke samay bhi apna mat double check kar sakte hai..” and “Ensure your vote goes to the candidate of your choice. Now, double check your vote with VVPAT!”.

It also bears an LCD screen, which will run a 10-minute documentary on the significance of the use of these machines in the voting exercise.

“It will be the first time that VVPATs will be used in all constituencies across the country in the upcoming elections. We are launching a citywide awareness campaign for the use of VVPATs, which is a relatively new concept. It is crucial that people t large area aware about it. The machine will allow them to verify their vote, as it will show the name, serial number and the symbol of the candidate selected for seven seconds on its screen,” said, Ranbir Singh, chief electoral officer (CEO) Delhi.

A vehicle each will be stationed across the 70 Assembly constituencies in Delhi, said Singh.

Besides, static kiosks will also be set up at malls and other public places to make citizens aware of its use for instance two such stalls have been put up at a mall in south Delhi’s Saket, he said.

“In east and Shahdara districts that cover 10 assembly segments having around 19.42 lakh voters across 1844 polling stations, the exercise will be covered over 50 days. Also, while the two districts are thickly populated, we will use e-rickshaws to move inside the narrow lanes to spread the message,” said, K Mahesh, district magistrate, East and Shahdara districts.

Meanwhile, officials in the commission said that they have also written to political parties repeatedly to designate Booth Level Agents (BAL) to help in increasing awareness and accuracy of electoral polls.

“Every political party has to appoint booth level agents across the 13,816 polling stations in Delhi. There must be an agent per booth. It is an important exercise to check how many voters are there in each booth, names that have been deleted or moved out. However, despite repeated reminders not all political parties have appointed as many agents,” said Singh.

In the latest assembly revision conducted in September 2018, only 6830 booth level agents have been appointed in total including the seven recognised national parties and one state party.

Also, Singh urged citizens, in particular, first-time voters, to verify their names in the electoral list so that nobody is left out of the electoral exercise.

First Published: Jan 10, 2019 15:28 IST