[op-ed snap] Paper chase: Faults in VVPAT system

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The newscard discusses the reasoning against the use of VVPAT in elections.


News

Context

  1. The high incidence of glitches in the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in the recent by-elections should be a major cause of concern for the Election Commission of India
  2. The Election Commission must review the use of paper trail machines in the polling process

Issues with the VVPAT

  1. Ever since the implementation of the VVPAT system last year, machine malfunction and subsequent delays in polling have been recurring issues
  2. The ECI has suggested that these machines were more prone to malfunctioning due to their sensitivity to extreme weather conditions and exposure to light
  3. It also blamed the relative inexperience of polling officers handling them, compared to the ballot and control units for the electronic voting machines (EVMs) that have been in use for much longer

Background

  1. The VVPAT was added to the EVM to audit the voter tallies stored in the machine
  2. Its universal implementation began in the Goa Assembly polls in 2017
  3. The implementation was deemed necessary as many political parties complained about the possible hacking of EVMs
  4. These complaints lacked any basis, but the VVPAT implementation was hastened to bring back trust in the election process

The VVPAT system has added complexities

  1. The use of these machines has added to the complexity of an otherwise simple, single programmable-chip based system
  2. And rendered it prone to more glitches

No need of VVPAT system

  1. There is enough empirical evidence to show that EVMs have eased polling and helped increase voter turnout since being put to use
  2. But in using VVPAT machines to reassure sceptics about an election’s integrity, the ECI has introduced a new element, and cost, to the process
  3. Considering these challenges, the ECI should consider deploying the VVPAT machines in a limited, statistically significant, randomly chosen set of polling booths
  4. This will reduce the possibility of glitches affecting the polling process as well-tested machines could be deployed (with enough replacements also handy) to such booths
Electoral Reforms In India
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