Lok Sabha Election 2019

VVPAT: Opposition has a recourse in slip counting

An elderly man checking the VVPAT machine in Sanganer.

An elderly man checking the VVPAT machine in Sanganer.  

Although the Supreme Court and the Election Commission have not agreed to the Opposition parties’ demand for 50% random physical verification of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) results with Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips, they can still take recourse to Section 56-D of the Conduct of Election Rules to request for slip counting.

Section 56-C of the Rules provides for the procedure of vote counting. In case a candidate or election agent disputes the announced results of any polling station(s), they can seek scrutiny of VVPAT slips under Section 56-D.

The provision states that after the entries made in the result sheet are announced, any candidate, or in his absence, his election agent or any of his counting agents may apply in writing to the returning officer to count the printed paper slips in the drop box of the printer in respect of any polling station or polling stations.

Explaining the procedure, the section says: “On such application being made, the returning officer shall, subject to such general or special guidelines, as may be issued by the Election Commission, decide the matter and may allow the application in whole or in part or may reject in whole, if it appears to him to be frivolous or unreasonable.”

The returning officer’s decision has to be in writing and must contain the reasons for accepting or rejecting the request. In case the officer allows the counting of slips, either whole or in part, he has to do the counting according to EC directions.

If any discrepancy between the votes displayed on the control unit and the counting of the paper slips is detected, the slip count prevails and accordingly, the results are amended and announced after following the set procedures.

“There have been 16 such instances of slip counting since 2017. In all cases, it was a 100% match of EVM results and VVPAT slips,” said an Election Commission official.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea of 21 Opposition parties to review its judgment rejecting the request for 50% matching, but increasing the physical counting of slips from one to five randomly selected EVMs in each Assembly segment or constituency. Subsequently, the parties, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, again approached the Commission on the same issue.

 

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 9:20:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/vvpat-opposition-has-a-recourse-in-slip-counting/article27072369.ece

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