SC to Consider Plea Seeking Cross Verification of EVM Vote Count with VVPAT

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Clarion India

NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of the Election Commission of India to a plea by an NGO seeking cross verification by the voters of votes cast by them as “counted as recorded” in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi said it is not issuing notice to the Election Commission but only asking for a copy of the petition filed by NGO ‘Association for Democratic Reforms’ (ADR) to be served upon the standing counsel of the poll panel.

The bench asked the EC to file its reply within three weeks.

“We think that it appears to be a case of over suspicion. We sometimes tend to be overly suspicious on certain matters. We are sure that they (EC) might have taken steps to rectify any such problems if they existed. Therefore, we are not issuing notice and only asking for the copy to be served,” the bench told advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the NGO.

On this, Bhushan contended that sometimes the registers and the vote counts do not match, as only a few VVPATs are tallied with EVM vote counts.

The plea states that the apex court, in its purported 2013 judgment in the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Election Commission of India, had directed that the election process “must have complete transparency in the system and restore the confidence of the voters”. The court had held that “paper trail” was “an essential requirement of free and fair elections” and directed the ECI to introduce VVPATs in EVMs.

“It is voter satisfaction and verification that is at the heart of electoral democracy, not just the ECI, domain experts, political parties or candidates. ‘Voter verifiable’ means that every voter must be able to verify: first, that their vote is ‘recorded as cast’; and, secondly, that his vote has been ‘counted as per record’,” the petition states.

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