Cabinet approves EC proposal to buy VVPAT machines
The Election Commission's plan to go for paper trail machines in the next Lok Sabha polls to add an additional layer of transparency in voting is set to materialise as the government today cleared Rs 3,174 crore for the goal.
After the Modi government came to power in May-end 2014, the Election Commission wrote at least a dozen letters to the law ministry seeking adequate funds to comply with the Supreme Court order.
The EC had sought Rs 3174 crore from the Centre for the purchase of over 16 lakh paper trail machines that allow voters to see the name and symbol of the candidate they have voted for to cover all polling stations across the country.
October 2013: In the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Election Commission of India (ECI), the Supreme Court held that VVPAT is "indispensable for free and fair elections" and directed the ECI to equip EVMs with VVPAT systems.
Several parties, including Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have said that EVMs can be tampered with.
The latest one, sent on March 22, stated that procurement of EVMs with Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) can not be delayed any longer given the prevailing environment.
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August 14, 2013: Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended to facilitate the introduction of VVPAT units.
In 2013, the commission purchased 20,300 VVPAT units and since then it has deployed them in certain seats. It wasalleged in the said Petition, that the Electronic Voting Machines are not reliable and that there should be some device by which the voter should get a confirmation that the vote cast by him has been recorded in favour of the candidate of his choice.
The Election Commission has refuted the charges.
In a statement, the EC said it will "closely monitor the production of VVPATs for timely delivery well before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls". According to official figures, in 2015, 67,000 VVPATs were ordered, but only 33,000 were received.
The Election Commission is under pressure to use VVPATs in the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year and Tripura in early 2018.
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