Nagaland by polls maiden test for India’s new voting system
DIMAPUR, AUGUST 17
THE Election Commission of India will be using for the first time in India the high-tech voter recording system ‘Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail’ system (VVPAT) with Electronic Voting Machines for the by-elections to the Noksen assembly of Nagaland.51-Noksen (Scheduled Tribe constituency) Assembly Constituency of Nagaland goes to the polls on September 4 after its representative sitting Member of Lok Sabha CM Chang vacated the seat in March this year.
The Government of India has finally amended the rules concerning the use of Electronic Voting Machines in elections – on August 14 – it was informed today, August 17. The center amended the Conduct of Elections Rules of 1961 which enabled the commission to employ the VVPAT with the Electronic Voting Machines. The Noksen elections would test the reliability of the new anti-fraud voting device.
“Instructions are being issued to hold special meetings with the contesting candidates in this constituency to brief them about the use of VVPAT system,” the Election Commission stated today in a press release distributed on its information portals. For smooth introduction of the new vote recording system for Noksen’s electorate, the Election Commission informed today, the election machinery is organizing special training sessions for poll officers.
According to updates, at least 42 VVPAT devices would be used in 21 polling stations during the Noksen by-election. Poll officers would be trained in the use of VVPAT by the Election Commission. In turn, they would be part of information capsules who would educate the constituency’s electorate and candidates on the use of the VVPAT system.
The election Commission had been toying with the idea of introducing the VVPAT (also called verified paper record (VPR) in India for years now. The system is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot-less voting system. A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results. The system was first demonstrated in New York City, United States in March 2001.
Since the previous year, the commission had been mulling deploying the new system in large states such as Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. However, implementing it required the commission to amend existing rules concerning Electronic Voting machines. The amendment had to be undertaken by the Ministry of Law and Justice based on the recommendations of the commission.
What is the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail System (VVPAT)?
• The VVPAT system is a new initiative of the Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections. The technology was first demonstrated in the US in 2001
• The VVPT will enable electors to view a printout of their ballot. The detail will display the name, election symbol and serial number of the chosen candidate. Voters are prohibited from taking the printout.
• In dispute about the voting, votes can be tallied electronically and physically with the ballot slips.
• The cost of each VVPAT, manufactured by Bharat Electronic Ltd and Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) is estimated at Rs. 12, 000 approximately.
• Currently, only Electronic Voting Systems are used for voting in India. Counting is based on the results record in the voting machines. In comparison the VVPAT will print a voter’s selection, thus also allowing for physically verification of the vote.