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New Delhi : The Election Commission of India (ECI) on September 26, 2018, allayed apprehensions regarding the supply of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail  (VVPATs) for the Lok Sabha Election in 2019. The Commission is committed to 100% deployment of VVPATs at all polling stations in future General, as well as bye elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies, the ECI said.

In order to meet the requirement of 100% VVPATs for all polling stations for the Lok Sabha Election in 2019, the Commission placed an order of 17.45 lakh VVPATs to Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bangalore, and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad. Till date, 9.45 lakh units have been produced by the PSUs. Both PSUs have assured the Commission that the remaining VVPAT units (8 lakh) will be manufactured and supplied to the various States/UTs before end of November 2018.

The Commission has enhanced the requirement of additional VVPATs from 125% to 135% considering the trend of failure rate of VVPATs in past elections. The Commission has estimated 171% Ballot Units, 125% Control Units and 135% VVPATs requirements for upcoming Lok Sabha Elections. It may be noted that in case of any error in VVPAT, only VVPAT is replaced with the reserve one, whereas, in case of any error in Ballot Unit or Control Unit of the EVM, entire set of Ballot Unit(s), Control Unit and VVPAT is changed, resulting in an increase in requirement of  VVPATs than the requirement of Control Units of EVMs, according to a PIB release.

Learning from experience of Kairana and Bhandara-Gondiya bye-polls held in May, 2018, where the errors were mainly caused by excessive exposure to illumination at the polling stations, the Commission has adopted the hardware improvement recommended by the Technical Expert Committee to prevent auto shutdown of VVPATs due to excessive light.

It is also pertinent to note that comprehensive and systematic preparatory activities for the Lok Sabha Elections, including the detailed First Level Checking of EVMs and VVPATs have already commenced across various States/UTs and will be completed in an efficient, effective and timely manner. First Level Checks workshops and trainings of polling officials are being regularly conducted by the Commission to minimize EVM/VVPAT failures due to human errors.

It may be appreciated that over the last twenty years, the Election Commission of India has successfully conducted 113 State Legislative Assembly Elections and 3 Lok Sabha Elections using EVMs. Since June 2017, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines have also been used successfully along with EVMs in General as well as Bye elections in all State Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies for enhanced voter verifiability.

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