EC begins probe into failure of VVPATs in by-polls

Political News, Nation, (New Delhi), June 1:-The Election Commission on Thursday initiated a probe into the large-scale failure of paper trail machines during the May 28 bypoll to Lok Sabha and assembly seats.

It has sent two teams to Kairana in Uttar Pradesh and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra to trace the reasons behind high cases of defects and failure in the voter verifiable paper trial (VVPAT) machines. The reports are likely to be submitted by June 5, sources in the poll panel said.

Re-poll was ordered in 49 polling stations across five assembly segments in Bhandara-Gondiya and 74 booths in Kairana after voting was delayed for hours due to malfunction of paper trail machines and EVMs.

The teams will also have members from ECIL and BEL, the two PSUs which manufacture EVMs and VVPATs, the sources said.

VVPAT machines allow voters to see who they have voted for by displaying a thermal slip on a screen for seven seconds. The slip then drops in a box. The voter cannot take it home. The results of EVMs and VVPATs are matched in one polling station per assembly seat. There have been demands to increase the number of polling stations where matching should take place.

The commission has so far maintained that the machines could have developed snags because the electoral staff did not follow the procedure for the use of machines, the teams have been asked to verify if the staff had adequate training. Heating of the devices due to direct exposure to sunlight was also cited as one of the reasons for the malfunction.

The poll panel has also assuaged fears of rigging of EVMs by pointing out that VVPAT machines allow voters to see who they have voted for.

In the May 28 bypolls, 1,202 VVPATs were replaced and the number was considered to be “very high”.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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