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In Nanded polls, Maharashtra uses paper trail machine for first time; 25% face technical snag

mumbai Updated: Oct 12, 2017 10:26 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,VVPAT,Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation

State Election commissioner, J S Saharia, inspecting a new Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine in Nanded(HT File)

The State Election Commission (SEC), on Wednesday, used the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) mechanism for the first time in Maharashtra during the municipal elections in Nanded. Although the overall reaction of the voters was satisfactory, around 25% of the machines used developed technical snags, raising questions about the technical preparations of the system.

Of the 20 wards which went to polls for 81 seats in Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation, the VVPAT was used in 37 polling booths in Ward 2. Ten machines developed technical snags, forcing the election commission to junk the idea of using them at four polling booths. Two machines were used partially, while four others were successfully repaired before the voting began.

Due to the technical difficulties, the SEC had to change its mandate of preference while counting votes. The SEC had earlier decided to assume the VVPAT machine count as authentic, over the count in the electronic voting machine (EVM). Since they faced technical snag at six booths, they have now decided to consider the EVM count as authentic.

The state had recently allocated Rs92 lakh to purchase 400 machines for the Nanded elections. “We wanted to use the VVPAT devices at 400 polling stations, but since the Electronic Corporation of India Limited, the manufacturer, was not able to provide us machines with multi posts voting, we had to restrict it to just one ward. The machines were used by the ECIL on experimental basis. The decision about using them full-fledged will be based on the reports in Nanded-Waghela civic polls,” said Shekhar Channe, secretary, SEC.

Mrudul Nile, associate professor at Mumbai University’s civic and politics department conducted a study of the mechanism during the polls on Wednesday. “We conducted the study in two phases, first before voting day, about the perception among voters, and then after voting. Most of the 2,000 voters we interviewed were satisfied,” Nile said.

Meanwhile, the Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) are set for a close fight in Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation. With more than 15 sitting corporators defecting to BJP from Congress and Shiv Sena, the ruling saffron party is hoping to gain big from the existing tally of just two corporators. The Congress, which has been ruling the civic body for 15 years, is banking on the likely shift of Muslim votes after 9 of the 11 All India Majlis-e-Muslimeen corporators joined its fold ahead of the elections.

First Published: Oct 12, 2017 10:26 IST