Top Court Seeks Poll Body's Reply On VVPAT Full Count Petition: All You Need To Know

VVPAT is a method used in elections to provide a physical record of the voter’s choice.

The Supreme Court has issued notice on a petition advocating for the counting of all Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper slips in elections. The petition challenges the current practice of verifying only five randomly selected Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency. A Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta passed this petition filed by lawyer and activist Arun Kumar Agrawal, represented by advocate Neha Rathi, with a pending petition filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms. 

What is VVPAT?

VVPAT is a method used in elections to provide a physical record of the voter’s choice, for verification. When a voter casts their vote using an EVM, the VVPAT system generates a paper slip containing the name and symbol of the candidate for whom the vote was cast. The voter can verify this paper slip to make sure that their vote was recorded correctly. VVPAT vouches for transparency and credibility of the electoral process by providing a paper trail that can be used for audit and verification purposes in case of disputes or discrepancies.

The petition

The petition is challenging a rule by the Election Commission that says VVPAT verification must be done one after the other, causing delays. The petitioner suggests doing the verification all at once and having more staff to speed things up, which could take about 5-6 hours per area.

They are concerned that despite the government spending a lot of money on VVPATs, only a small number of them are being checked. They argue that because experts have raised questions about VVPATs and EVMs, and because there have been mistakes in counting votes in the past, it is important to check all VVPAT slips. They want voters to be able to physically put their VVPAT slips in a box to make sure their votes are counted correctly.

The petition seeks four reliefs:

  1. Mandatory cross-verification of EVM counts with VVPAT slips.
  2. Quashing of Guideline No. 14.7(h) allowing only sequential VVPAT verification.
  3. Allowing voters to physically drop VVPAT slips into a ballot box for assurance.
  4. Making the glass of the VVPAT machine transparent and making sure that there is enough light for voters to see their vote records clearly. 

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