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Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

Topics covered:

  1. RPA related issues.


Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)


What to study?

For prelims: VVPAT.

For mains: EVM tampering related concerns, significance of VVPATs and observations of SC.


Context: SC has dismissed Opposition plea to review order on VVPAT counting.


What’s the issue?

21 Opposition parties had sought a review of Supreme Court verdict that increased counting of VVPAT slips to five random EVMs in each Assembly constituency. The Opposition wanted to increase the number to at least 25%. Petitioners pointed to large-scale tampering and selective malfunctioning of EVMs in the present Lok Sabha polls.



Earlier, under the ECI guideline 16.6, only the VVPAT slips from one EVM in every Assembly segment/constituency was subjected to physical verification.


SC’s observations:

VVPAT verification of five EVMs, rather than in 125 polling booths, was far more “viable at this point of time” in the Lok Sabha poll season. Verification of five EVMs would not be a drain on the ECI’s infrastructural resources and manpower.


What is VVPAT?

The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot less voting system.

The VVPAT is an independent printer system attached with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. It generates a paper slip every time a voter casts his vote, recording the party to whom the vote was made. The VVPAT slip is kept in a sealed cover.

VVPAT slip counting takes place in the VVPAT counting booths under the close monitoring of the returning officer and direct oversight of the observer.


How does the VVPAT work?

The voting in India is done using the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) that is designed with two units: the control unit and the balloting unit.

  • The balloting unit of the machine has a list of candidate names and party symbols with a blue button next to it. The voter can press the button next to the candidate’s name they wish to vote for.
  • When the voter casts the vote on the EVM, printer-like VVPAT apparatus linked to the EVM generates a slip showing serial number, name and symbol of the candidate to whom the vote was made.
  • With this slip, the voter can verify his casted vote.
  • This VVPAT slip is displayed for 7 seconds before it’s automatically cut.
  • The slip, once viewed, is cut and dropped into the drop box in the VVPAT machine and a beep will be heard.
  • The VVPAT machines can only be accessed by the election officers in the rarest of rare cases.


Significance and the need for VVPATs:

  • The VVPAT helps to detect potential election fraud or malfunction in the Electronic Voting Machine. It provides a means to audit the stored electronic results. It serves as an additional barrier to change or destroy votes.
  • The EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system with fullest transparency and restores the confidence of the voters.
  • EVMs and VVPATs also speed up the election process as counting votes on EVMs takes much lesser time than counting paper ballots.


Sources: The Hindu.