Election Commission rejects demands of opposition parties’ regarding changes to VVPAT counting process

Election Commission rejects demands of opposition parties' regarding changes to VVPAT counting
Election Commission rejects demands of opposition parties' regarding changes to VVPAT counting process

The three-member Election Commission has rejected the demand from 22 political parties to make last-minute changes to the way votes will be counted on Thursday, according to news agency ANI.

Leaders of 22 political parties had yesterday urged the poll watchdog to ensure paper slips from the VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) module are matched before the counting begins so that in cases of discrepancy, all votes in that particular assembly segment can be cross-checked with the paper slips.

The Election Commission had told the delegation of opposition leaders that the poll panel would meet on Wednesday to take a decision on this proposal.

The opposition move to land up at the election commission headquarters in the national capital was designed to highlight what they say are basic flaws in the protocol for counting drawn up by the poll panel without consulting political parties.

Opposition leaders have indicated that they weren’t very hopeful that the poll panel would fix the discrepancies hours before the counting process is to begin, not when it had chosen to ignore the suggestions for months.

“We raised these same issues in last one and half months. Why did they not respond?” asked Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi who called the suggestion to first verify the VVPAT paper slips a “no-brainer”.

In their memorandum to the panel, the parties had said that in order to make the process more transparent, paper slips must be counted first and if there is a discrepancy with what is shown digitally on the machines, then all votes – instead of the 5% the EC has decided to at present – in the assembly segment of that parliamentary constituency should be cross-checked.

At present, the counting will involve the matching of paper slips in five polling booths picked at random for each assembly segment.