Himachal Pradesh election panel to give report on VVPAT to ECI

A team of experts from the state election commission is reviewing snags witnessed in implementation of the new system of providing voters with a paper trail of the vote they cast. They will submit a report to the Election Commission of India (ECI) within a week and lessons will be used to improve the process in Gujarat assembly polls in December. Technically called the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, they were used for the first time in the state polls on November 9. Around 500 (7%) of 7,525 machines had to be replaced during the entire poll process in Himachal.

“A total of 7,525 VVPAT machines were used in Himachal and around 500 had to be replaced during dispersal, mock and actual polls,” said chief electoral officer Pushpendra Rajput.

Software errors, even lighting bugged machines

Software errors, stalling of machines after receiving ‘many commands’ in a single go and inappropriate lighting disrupted the gadget’s working. The software errors required rectification by the engineers or the replacement of the machine. The stalling of machine was attributed to non-stop commands given in one go. The lighting issue occurred where the polling compartments were brightly lit; the staff was, thus, advised to keep low lighting. It was observed that bright light affected sensors of the machines.

What are VVPAT machines?

The VVPAT is a mechanism to provide feedback to voters. It is a printer machine attached to electronic voting machines that help voters to verify their vote.

How does it work?

A voter presses a button in the EVM machine, his vote gets recorded in the control unit and a paper slip is printed through the VVPAT. The voter can only see a slip containing the poll symbol and name of the candidate on a screen. After seven seconds, the slip is cut and deposited in the box below machine.