The Union Law Ministry, which has amended the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, to allow use of electronic voting machines fitted with the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, has introduced a new section to enable the voter to challenge VVPAT operation in case of doubt.

The new rule 49MA reads: Where a printer is used, if an elector after having recorded his/her vote alleges that the paper slip generated by the printer has shown the name or symbol of a candidate other than the one he/she voted for, the Presiding Officer shall obtain a written declaration from the elector on the veracity of the allegation, after warning him/her of the consequence of making a false statement.

The Presiding Officer will then permit the elector to record a test vote in the voting machine in his presence and in the presence of the candidates/polling agents. If the voter’s allegation is true, the Presiding Officer would immediately report to the Returning Officer and stop further recording of votes in the defective machine. As per another section 56D introduced in the rule, a candidate/election agent can request the Returning Officer to count the printed paper slips in the drop box of the printer (VVPAT) in any polling station. However, such counting will be allowed only with the permission of the Election Commission.

The EVM, fitted with VVPAT, is to be field-tested for the first time in the September 4 by-election in the Noksen (ST) Assembly constituency in Nagaland. Such machines will be installed in all polling stations.