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Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) UPSC NOTE

 Why in news

  • The introduction and use of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), an adjunct system attached to the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), and the provision of counting VVPAT tallies from five random polling booths in every Assembly constituency to be matched with the EVM vote-count, have not assuaged critics of the use of EVMs in Indian elections.

VVPAT Machines

  • It is an independent verification printer machine attached to electronic voting machines (EVMs) that allows voters to verify that their votes have been recorded accurately.

  • As soon as the voter presses the button on the EVM, the VVPAT machine prints the slip that contains the name and symbol of the party they have voted for, for around 7 seconds.

  • VVPAT Machines were first introduced in India in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and were introduced to increase transparency and eliminate doubts about the accuracy of the EVMs

  • VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only.

  • The Supreme Court  in Dr. Subramanian Swamy v ECI (2013) held that VVPAT is an "indispensable requirement of free and fair elections".


Challenges:

Technical Malfunctions:

  • One of the primary concerns with VVPAT machines is the possibility of technical malfunctions. The machines are supposed to print a paper receipt of the vote cast by the voter, which is then deposited in a box.

  • However, there have been instances of the machines malfunctioning, resulting in inaccurate printing or no printing at all.

Verification of Paper Trails:

  • Another challenge is the verification of the paper trails generated by the VVPAT machines.

  • While the machines are meant to provide a physical record of the vote cast, it is not always clear how this record can be verified, especially in cases where there is a discrepancy between the electronic and paper records.

Voter Confidence:

  • The recent reports of defective VVPAT machines have further eroded the public's confidence in the electoral process.

  • The lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the EC has led to questions about the fairness and accuracy of the elections.


Suggestions

  • The fact that the process could be more transparent if a machine audit trail of all the commands that are executed is maintained in the system, beyond just the votes recorded in the EVM’s ballot unit and the printed slips in the VVPATs, allowing for an audit to rule out any malicious code. 

  • This could indeed make the system more robust and be considered as an upgrade to the existing machines. 

  • Others suggest that the use of VVPATs has introduced potential vulnerabilities that did not exist with the standalone nature of EVMs and the technical and administrative safeguards that undergirded the legacy system. 

  • This too could be addressed by reworking the safeguards to ensure that the VVPAT-combined systems are as secure and foolproof as the standalone EVMs were


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) UPSC NOTE
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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