The ECI in its 50 Page long affidavit said to the Supreme Court that by counting 50% of VVPAT slips there can be a delay of 5 days in coming with the election result.
The Lok Sabha poll is around the corner and this year too use of EVM is again at the centre of controversy. To gain the confidence of voters and all parties this year Election Commission of India (ECI) facilitated the use of EVM machines equipped to produce VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) slips. But opposition moved to Supreme Court demanding an increased percentage of VVPAT slip verification during the counting process. In defending its earlier stand of verifying slips for only one booth per assembly constituency the ECI said to the Supreme Court that by counting 50% of VVPAT slips there can be a delay of 5 days in coming with the election result.
ECI told Supreme Court that 50% VVPAT Verification will take time and it will delay elections results by 5 days.
The ECI in its 50 Page long affidavit said to the Supreme Court“The 50% Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slip verification in each Assembly segment of a Parliamentary Constituency or Assembly Constituency on an average shall enlarge the time required for counting to about six days.” The ECI also clarified to the honourable Supreme Court that already the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) equipped with VVPAT has a 99.9936% confidence concerning accuracy. Naturally, a further increase in the number of sample VVPAT slips for verification purpose will fail to make a significant change in the confidence level of the voters.
The clarification from the Election Commission also noted that since there is already provision for verifying the VVPAT slips, the insistence on a particular percentage for the purpose of verification seems to be illogical or fairly groundless.
In the current debate and hearing on the ongoing plea of 21 opposition parties concerning verification of VVPAT slips for vote counting Supreme Court as of now took a firm stand favouring the demand for increasing the sample size of VVPAT slips for verification. In its argument, ECI firmly stood its ground showing a report on the sample size for VVPAT verification by Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) on 22nd March this year. As per the recommendations of the ISI report only a sample size of 479 EVMs and corresponding VVPAT slips from a total of 10.35 lakh EVM machines can ensure the confidence of 99.9936%. In spite of that, according to Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain, ECI authority decided to cover 4,125 EVMs and VVPATs for the verification in this election.
Another argument posed by the Commission in front of the honourable court is that increased sample size will require extensive training and more well-trained election officials in the field. In this respect, ECI also brought the attention of the court to the procedural safeguards and highly secure design of the machines that are going to be utilised in this election.
In defending its process as transparent and credible the ECI also told in the affidavit that each of the EVM and VVPAT has undergone thorough check at the very first level and thereafter, 5% randomly selected machines from the lot have been subjected to a higher level of scrutiny through a mock poll. When counting results, the VVPAT slips were also subjected to verification. The verification was done for 1,200 votes for 1% of EVMs, 1000 votes for 2% and 500 votes for 2% of EVMs, as the ECI affidavit mentioned.