After queueing up in front of the polling booth under the blazing sun on April 23, you are bound to feel tired. As you enter the polling enclosure you will be a bit nervous too. You look for your candidate’s symbol and press the button. Then comes a nagging doubt — have you hit the right button or has your vote gone to another candidate.
This time, VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) is at hand to check it out. A proof in black and white is as the biggest charm of VVPAT, an independent system introduced by the Election Commission to help voters verify their vote cast on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). The voter can view for seven seconds the slip which contains serial number, name, and symbol of the candidate voted for. After that it falls into a sealed box.
The EVM-VVPAT combo, piloted in India in 2014, covering eight parliamentary constituencies, will be used in 24,970 polling stations in Kerala on April 23. It is expected to cater to 2.54 crore voters in the State. There will be enough VVPATs in reserve, about 31% of the total number, to be used in emergencies. Also, 17% of the EVMs will be kept as reserve for the same purpose.
The system has three components — control unit, ballot unit, and VVPAT. The voter has to press the blue button next to the name of the candidate concerned on the ballot unit. A paper trail will appear on the VVPAT Status Display Unit (VSDU) for personal verification. The process ends when the paper trail falls into the sealed box. The presiding officer operates the control unit and the voters need not worry about technical issues, security and confidentiality.
“If any error is spotted on the paper trail, one can report it to the presiding officer. The voter can cast a test vote to prove his claim. Polling will be stopped if the claim is found true by the presiding officer,” says K. Jayaprakashan, Deputy Collector (Election), Kozhikode. He adds that the complainant will be liable to face legal action if no fault is spotted during the checking process.
Live demonstrations have been carried out all over the State. Voters in tribal settlements and the colonies of backward communities have been given preference. Focus has been given to constituencies where the voting percentage was not up to the mark during the last elections.
“More than 1,000 field-level classes and demonstrations on the functioning of EVM-VVPAT were held in Kozhikode district alone. To make it appealing, we used various art forms and cultural events during the interactive training sessions,” says E. Anithakumari, a nodal officer for EVM Management Cell.