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.
Note: A VVPAT consists of a Printer and a VVPAT Status Display Unit (VSDU). The control unit of the EVMs and VSDU are kept with the presiding officer or polling officer, while the balloting unit and printer are kept in the voting compartment.
Significance of VVPAT with EVM
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.
Can VVPAT print wrong information?
Yes, there can be cases when the VVPAT prints wrong information. In such cases, voter can report it to the presiding officer who will take a voter declaration explaining that if found false, voter can be penalised.
The officer will then let the voter cast a test vote in front him and other poll officials. If voter’s claim is found false and the VVPAT is printing the right slip, the test vote will not be counted.
However, if the claim is found true and the VVPAT it faulty, then the presiding officer will stop the poll and report to the returning officer.
Maiden use of VVPAT with EVM
The idea of using VVPAT was for the first time suggested during an All Party Meeting in October 2010. Subsequently, the Union Government issued a notification in August 2013 amending the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, to enable the Commission to use VVPAT With Electronic Voting Machines.
The VVPAT with the EVM was used for the first time in the bye-election for the Noksen Assembly seat in Tuensang district of Nagaland in September 2013. Thereafter, the VVPATs have been used in select constituencies in every election to the State Assemblies.
Use of VVPATs in Lok Sabha Elections
The VVPAT with the EVMs were deployed in eight Parliamentary constituencies during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, the VVPATs will be used in all the constituencies.