The cabinet has cleared Election Commission’s proposal of buying new Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines on Wednesday morning as reported by the news agencies PTI and ANI. The decision was taken Union Cabinet meeting that took place on Wednesday afternoon after the Election Commission said it desired to use these machines in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The cabinet has so far cleared Rs. 1,009 crore and Rs. 9,200 for the Election Commission to buy new EVM machines but the Commission had sent 11 reminders to the government seeking funds for VVPAT machines.
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Last year, the Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi wrote to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi bringing the issue to his notice. On the other hand, Supreme Court had asked the Election Commission to give a tentative date by which it can use VVPAT machines in all polling stations. The item ‘procurement of VVPAT units’ was one of the top agendas for the government in the Union Cabinet meeting. However, it is still not clear it is still not clear whether the Cabinet would clear the entire Rs 3,174 crore needed for over 16 lakh paper trail machines to cover all polling stations in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections or go for instalments.
The BSP, the AAP and the Congress had attacked the EC for allegedly using “tampered” EVMs. Sixteen parties, not including the AAP, had recently petitioned the EC to revert to paper ballot system for greater transparency. VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home. The voters see voter-verifiable paper audit trail slip for seven seconds, which would be an acknowledgement receipt for the party they voted for in the election.
(with input from agency)