Bar Vinod Tiwari moves SC, ECI demands counting of votes to be made on the basis of VVPATs

We also request you please grant us an opportunity of hearing on this representation so as to demonstrate its urgent need in the interest of justice and fair play to protect fundamental doctrine of transparency and trust! 

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Mumbai: Council for Protection of Rights (CPR) president Bar Vinod Tiwari has in separate petitions filed before the Supreme Court of India (SC) and the Election Commission of India (ECI) has demanded that counting of votes be made on the basis of 100% Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). He has further demanded barcoding of all the VVPAT paper slips.

In his petitions, the CPR president has stated that in order to overcome the present controversy and allegations of tampering of Electronic Voting Machines – EVMs can be addressed and checked to the satisfaction of all, if the Counting of Votes in all parliamentary or assembly constituencies is made compulsory on the basis of VVPAT generated after casting of votes by voters and kept in sealed boxes after his visual verification!  

Bar Vinod Tiwari has argued that the Election Commission of India – ECI in the process of making the EVM voting transparent and trusted started use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) to EVM since the 2014 General Election on trial basis in few constituencies. This VVPAT has helped strengthen the voters’ trust and transparency of the voting process

A VVPAT is an independent printer system attached with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. VVPAT slips are visible to the voter for seven seconds behind the transparent screen of VVPAT, before falling into the sealed compartment at the base of the machine.

He further argues that the ECI claimed that the specially designed thermal paper to be used in the VVPAT is capable of retaining the printout for more than five years so that the printout is available for manual verification by the Court, if required in need of a dispute for cross checking the counting of votes cast.

Bar Tiwari adds, “If this VVPAT generated after casting of votes by voters is allowed to be stored in front voters as done in case of ballot boxes, to be sealed upon closing of polls, on the day designated for counting, such sealed boxes can be opened for physical counting of such VVPATs to count the votes polled by particular candidates as done in case of earlier ballot paper system”.

“This will be a foolproof system to get the present controversial EVMs marred by allegations of chip tampering and lack of transparency therein. The present system of VVPATs can be further strengthened by barcodes printed there on so that it’s physical counting can be made faster by using counting machines as done by bank teller in case of faster counting of currency notes, even system of scanner can also be used simultaneously to make more transparent and trustworthy by replacing present system of displaying votes polled in EVMs”, adds Bar Tiwari. 

“It is unfortunate that up to 2019 General Election, so far VVPATs have been used only in 933 State Assembly Constituencies and 18 Parliamentary Constituencies. Till date, VVPATs have been used in all ACs at 100% polling stations during the General Assembly Elections in 7 States, namely, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Karnataka, held in 2017-18”, remarked Bar Tiwari. 

It is relevant to note that since December 2017 Election Commission has been Suo-moto doing a verification of VVPAT count from only in one randomly selected Polling Station selected per Assembly Constituency. VVPAT slips of 873 VVPATs machines have been counted till now and each of these has exactly matched the count taken from EVMs, adds Bar Tiwari. 

So, the present controversy and allegations of tampering of Electronic Voting Machines – EVMs can be addressed and checked to the satisfaction of all, if the Counting of Votes in all parliamentary or assembly constituencies is made compulsory on the basis of VVPAT generated after casting of votes by voters and kept in sealed boxes after his visual verification!  

The EVMs and VVPATS being used ECI election process are manufactured only at the two premium PSUs – Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) under the technical expertise of an independent Technical Expert Committee and supervision of the Election Commission making them absolutely tamper proof.

Hence to build the confidence & trust of the voters at large in the system adopted by ECI, it is relevant and necessary that controversy and allegations of tampering of Electronic Voting Machines – EVMs can be addressed and checked to the satisfaction of all, if the Counting of Votes in all parliamentary or assembly constituencies is made compulsory on the basis of VVPAT generated after casting of votes by voters and kept in sealed boxes after his visual verification! 

Once this 100% VVPATs system is adopted and physical counting is made mandatory on the basis of such VVPATs system, there will not be any scope of allegations and demand to switch over on the ballot paper system can be redressed effectively. 

We also request you please grant us an opportunity of hearing on this representation so as to demonstrate its urgent need in the interest of justice and fair play to protect fundamental doctrine of transparency and trust! 

Also Read: FAQs: What Happens if Candidate Dies After Polling of Votes and Before Results?

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