After glitches, VVPAT makers look for alternate paper quality

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After glitches, VVPAT makers look for alternate paper quality

New Delhi: With heat and humidity being cited as factors that could have caused a high incidence of VVPAT glitches during the Kairana and Bhandara-Gondiya bypolls, the machine manufacturers, BEL and ECIL, are looking for alternatives to the paper rolls being currently used in the printer.

According to EC sources, the manufacturers suspect that the paper, currently in use, could be absorbing moisture in extremely hot and humid conditions, which consequently makes the roll heavy and interferes with the functioning of the printer.

“They (BEL and ECIL) have informed us that they are exploring if the current paper can be replaced with another quality that is more resistant to moisture,” an EC official said on condition of anonymity.

VVPAT units, also known as Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail units, produce a printout of the vote cast using an EVM, which can be shown to the voter to dispel any doubts. This printout is then deposited in a box and can be used to resolve any dispute regarding the election.

Last month, the Commission had to order re-election in 73 polling stations of the Kairana seat, 49 in Bhandara-Gondiya and one in Nagaland after a large number of VVPATs malfunctioned during the polling on May 28. The Commission also ordered the transfer of Gondiya collector who acted as the returning officer for the bypoll.

The repoll was ordered on the ground that the poll officers took inordinately long to replace the malfunctioning VVPATs, which may have affected the voter turnout.

On May 28, the EC had to replace 0.76 per cent (96 units) of the ballot units, 0.81 per cent (84 units) of the control units and 11.6 per cent (1,202 units) of the VVPATs deployed for use in the 14 bypoll seats across 10 states.

According to official EC statistics, the percentage of VVPATs that had to be replaced in Kairana was 20.8 per cent, in Bhandara Gondiya 19.22 per cent, in Palghar assembly seat 13.16 per cent, in Maheshtala 12.37 per cent and 11.02 per cent in Shahkot assembly constituency.

The glitches were attributed to heat and inept handling of machines. The Commission had dispatched two teams to Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to prepare a report on why VVPATs used in the Kairana and Gondiya bypoll had malfunctioned.

 

News Courtesy: indianexpress