Poll panel weighs pros, cons of VVPAT after its Maharashtra debut

VVPAT mechanism is more time consuming, cost intensive, find SEC officials

mumbai Updated: Oct 13, 2017 23:47 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,VVPAT,Maharashtra election commission
State Election commissioner, J S Saharia, inspecting a new Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine in Nanded(Bhushan Koyande/HT)

After introducing the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) for the first time in Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation election on Wednesday, the state election commission has analysed the pros and cons of the system. Besides the delay in declaration the results from the ward the VVPAT was used in, the mechanism has proved to be more cost intensive, and needs additional manpower and logistics.

The State Election Commission (SEC) used 37 VVPAT machines in a ward with four seats during the Nanded civic polls on an experimental basis. The results for the four seats were announced post midnight, when the rest of the results were out by evening on Thursday. The delay was owing to the additional step of counting of the slips in the VVPAT machines.

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

The SEC had to deploy additional manpower at the polling booth as well as at the counting stations. “The voting process take little longer on VVPAT booths, as the slip with the symbol to which the vote is cast is displayed to the voter. Taking this factor into consideration, we had to reduce the number of voters per booth to 550 on the booths with VVPAT, from the average number of 750 voters on other booths. This naturally led to the rise in the number of booths to 37, from the average of 25 booths per ward. They also need additional manpower and logistical arrangement, leading to the rise in cost of conducting the polls,” said an official from the SEC.

The SEC officials and experts studying the new system have said that the system has been successfully implemented and it helped in making the process transparent. “Voters were happy with the system, and not a single complaint was registered against VVPAT,” said Mrudul Nile, associate professor, Mumbai University. He studied the VVPAT mechanism during the civic polls.

The SEC has said that the decision about the use of the VVPAT in the future will be taken very soon. “The counting of the VVPAT slips is not mandatory, but we decided to go for it in Nanded, as it was on the experimental basis. We may decide to not count the slips to save time in future. Even the Election Commission of India’s mandate does not make it mandatory,” said Shekhar Channe, secretary, SEC.

First Published: Oct 13, 2017 23:47 IST