The Election Commission of India clarified that it is committed to 100 per cent deployment of VVPATs (Voter-verified paper audit trail) at all polling stations during the upcoming elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.
In order to meet the requirement of 100 per cent VVPATs for all polling stations for the upcoming Lok Sabha Election in 2019, the Commission placed an order of 1.74 million VVPATs to Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bangalore and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad. Till date, 945,000 units have been produced by the PSUs, it said in an official communication.
Both PSUs have assured the Commission that the remaining VVPAT units (800,000) will be manufactured and supplied to the states/union territories before the end of November this year.
"The Commission has been consistently and periodically reviewing the status of production and supply of VVPATs with the CMDs of PSUs, as well as the Technical Expert Committee (TEC), to ensure that the design, production and supply activities of all the units of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and VVPATs is streamlined and completed in a time-bound manner after incorporating the features suggested by the TEC, which is carrying out a rigorous supervision of the production process and product performance."
The EC further said that its officers are monitoring the manufacturing and supply of machines on a daily basis in order to ensure timely delivery and pre-poll preparedness. It also said that it has enhanced the requirement of additional VVPATs from 125 to 135 per cent, considering the trend of the failure rate of VVPATs in the past.
The Commission has estimated a requirement of 171 per cent ballot units, 125 per cent control units and 135 per cent VVPAT requirements for the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections. It may be noted that in case of any error, only VVPAT is replaced with the reserve one, whereas, in case of any error in the ballot unit or control unit of the EVM, the entire set of ballot unit(s), control unit and VVPAT is changed, resulting in an increase in the requirement of VVPATs.
"It is pertinent to mention that learning from the experience of Kairana and Bhandara-Gondiya by-polls held in May 2018 where the errors were mainly caused by excessive exposure to illumination in the polling stations, the Commission has adopted hardware improvement recommended by the Technical Expert Committee to prevent auto shutdown of VVPATs due to excessive light," the EC said.
"It is also pertinent to note that comprehensive and systematic preparatory activities for the Lok Sabha Elections, including the detailed First Level Checking of EVMs and VVPATs have already commenced across various States/UTs and will be completed in an efficient, effective and timely manner," it added.
The Commission further said that first level check workshops and training of polling officials are being regularly conducted to minimise EVM/VVPAT failures due to human errors.