ALSO READEC to get 30,000 VVPAT machines for Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh polls Himachal Pradesh polls to be held on November 9, results on December 18 EC decision to not announce Gujarat poll date intriguing SC gives ECI 2 week deadline to respond to plea alleging EVM tampering Future Lok Sabha polls to see paper audit of vote at cost of Rs 3,200 cr
The Election Commission (EC) has sent detailed instructions to the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of poll-bound Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat for mandatory use of VVPAT machines at all polling stations and counting of paper slips in the coming assembly polls.
The poll panel has directed the CEOs that apart from the use of voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines at all polling stations, there would be mandatory verification of paper slips of VVPATs from one randomly selected polling station from each assembly constituency "on a pilot basis".
In its detailed instructions to the CEOs last week, the Election Commission said the verification of paper slips would be done after the last round of counting of votes recorded in the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
"The random selection of one polling station per assembly constituency shall be done by draw of lots by the Returning Officer concerned, in the presence of candidates or their agents and the General Observer appointed by the Commission for that constituency," the letter sent to the CEOs read.
It added the draw of lots "must be conducted immediately after the completion of the last round of counting" of votes from the EVMs.
The candidates or their agents would have to be intimated regarding the draw of lots "well in advance" by the Returning Officer, it said.
The EC directions said the audit of VVPAT paper slips will be done in a "VVPAT counting booth", "specially prepared inside the counting hall" that would be "enclosed in a wire mesh just like a bank cashier's cabin, so that no VVAPT slip were accessed by any unauthorised person".
It said that the Returning Officer would have to "personally supervise" the counting of VVPAT paper slips at the counting booth.
HP to use online software RONET
Himachal Pradesh will be the first state to use EC's new application — Returning Officer NET (RONET), an online decision support system.
Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti, Election Commissioners O P Rawat and Sunil Arora on Tuesday launched the application which will be used by Election Commission of India (ECI), Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), District Election Officer (DEO), and Returning Officer (RO) for the purpose of better election management.
The software has been tested on a pilot basis and was first used in a few constituencies of the recently concluded Punjab Assembly elections.
With the new software, contesting candidates will be able to directly apply for permission, which will be viewed by RO on RONET.
The software also has a citizen-centric mobile application through which citizens can lodge voter-related issues or Model Code of Conduct complaints. The voters can see polling booths, electoral roll name search, and the election results directly from the application.
Through RONET, ECI aims to facilitate communication among the election commission staff, as well as provide information regarding poll day arrangements and voter turnouts to the polling party through the mobile app.
In addition, during the polling, Presiding Officer can report issues such as law and order situation and malfunctioning of machines from the mobile application to Sector Officer, RO, and DEO.