Voters can challenge VVPAT operation in case of doubt

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PREVIEWNew Delhi, August 17; The Union Law ministry, which has amended the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, as per the Election Commission’s advice, to allow the usage of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) fitted with the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, has introduced a new section to enable voters to challenge the VVPAT operation in case of doubt.

The new rule 49MA reads: “where printer for paper trail is used, if an elector after having recorded his vote…alleges that the paper slip generated by the printer has shown the name or symbol of a candidate other than the one he voted for, the presiding officer shall obtain a written declaration from the elector as to the allegation, after warning the elector about the consequence of making a false declaration.”

The new rule allows the presiding officer, after getting a written declaration from the voter, to permit the elector to record a test vote in the voting machine in his presence and in the presence of the candidates/polling agents. If the allegation is found to be true, then the presiding officer should report the facts immediately to the returning officer and stop further recording of votes in that voting machine.

As per another section 56D introduced in the rule, a candidate/election agent can request the returning officer to count the printed paper slips in the drop box of the printer (VVPAT) regarding any polling station. However, such counting is allowed only with the EC’s permission.

EVMs fitted with VVPAT are to be field tested for the first time in the September 4 by-election to the Noksen (ST) Assembly Constituency in Nagaland. Such machines will be installed in all the polling stations.

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