The Election Commission (EC) has sent detailed instructions to the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of poll-bound Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat for mandatory use of VVPAT machines at all polling stations and counting of paper slips in the coming assembly polls.
The poll panel has directed the CEOs that apart from the use of voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines at all polling stations, there would be mandatory verification of paper slips of VVPATs from one randomly selected polling station from each assembly constituency “on a pilot basis”.
In its detailed instructions to the CEOs last week, the Election Commission said the verification of paper slips would be done after the last round of counting of votes recorded in the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
“The random selection of one polling station per assembly constituency shall be done by draw of lots by the Returning Officer concerned, in the presence of candidates or their agents and the General Observer appointed by the Commission for that constituency,” the letter sent to the CEOs read.
It added the draw of lots “must be conducted immediately after the completion of the last round of counting” of votes from the EVMs.
The candidates or their agents would have to be intimated regarding the draw of lots “well in advance” by the Returning Officer, it said.
The EC directions said the audit of VVPAT paper slips will be done in a “VVPAT counting booth”, “specially prepared inside the counting hall” that would be “enclosed in a wire mesh just like a bank cashier’s cabin, so that no VVAPT slip were accessed by any unauthorised person”.
Himachal Pradesh will be the first state to use EC’s new application — Returning Officer NET (RONET), an online decision support system.