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Important First Step: Congress After SC Seeks ECI Response On VVPAT Slips

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New Delhi: The Congress party has welcomed the recent move by the Supreme Court, issuing a notice to the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Centre regarding a crucial petition advocating for the comprehensive counting of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper slips in elections. Commending the Supreme Court’s action as a significant first step, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh emphasized the urgency of a prompt decision on the matter before the Lok Sabha elections commence. He reiterated the party’s longstanding demand for 100% VVPATs to enhance public confidence in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and uphold the integrity of the electoral process.

“It bears constant repetition that the Election Commission has refused to meet a delegation of INDIA party leaders who have been demanding 100% VVPATs in order to increase public confidence in EVMs and to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. The notice is an important first step, but for it to be meaningful, the matter should be decided before the elections commence,” said Ramesh in a post on X.

 

 

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the ECI and Centre on a petition seeking the counting of all Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper slips in elections, instead of the verification of only 5 randomly selected (Electronic Voting Machines) EVMs in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.

The petition, filed by lawyer and activist Arun Kumar Agrawal, challenges the ECI’s current guideline of sequentially verifying VVPATs, arguing that this approach causes unnecessary delays. Agrawal’s plea suggests that simultaneous verification, coupled with increased deployment of officers, could expedite the process, enabling complete VVPAT verification within a matter of hours. The petition further stated that while the government has spent around Rs 5000 crores on the purchase of nearly 24 lakh VVPATs, presently VVPAT slips of only approximately 20,000 VVPATs are verified.

Call For Enhanced Transparency And Accountability

The petition also highlights the significant expenditure incurred by the government on VVPATs and emphasizes the need for full utilization of these resources. With concerns raised by experts regarding discrepancies between EVM and VVPAT counts, the plea advocates for enhanced transparency and accountability in the electoral process. It stresses the importance of allowing voters to physically verify that their votes have been accurately recorded, thereby bolstering public trust in the democratic process.

VVPAT: A Critical Component Of Electoral Process

Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) serves as an independent system crucial for verifying votes in elections. It empowers voters to confirm the accuracy of their votes by generating a paper slip displaying their selected candidate’s name, which can be used for verification in case of disputes. The Supreme Court’s previous directive to increase VVPAT verification from one to five EVMs per assembly segment further underscores the significance of this issue in ensuring transparent and fair elections.



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