2019 Polls: VVPAT present sampling good enough, say Experts

Chennai: The Supreme Court has given time till 8 April to respond to the affidavit that increasing the random physical verification of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) would delay counting. Experts in the field opine that escalating the number would not be favourable.

Senior advocate, C A Sundaram, in one of his earlier statements, said, “Intensive practice and training is needed for the personnel to carry out the process and there will be a situation to increase the number of substantial manpower. Additional VVPAT booths would need larger halls which is a problem in many parts of the country.”

When asked about it, a highly-placed source from the expert committee formed to analyse the issue, said, “As far as increasing the sample size is concerned, it is the Supreme Court and Election Commission which have to decide.┬áStatistically, a random sample of 472 will suffice provided we do not find a defective electronic voting machine (EVM) in the sample which has been written in the report.”

However, EC noted that the complicated process of counting 50 per cent of slips in all 10.35 lakh polling booths would not improve the reliability of the device. Experts are of the opinion that the reliability of VVPAT is so high – already over 99.99 per cent – so any additional increment is insignificant.

Professionals defy the probabilities of the machine going dysfunctional. The source added, “The technology has been vetted by a high-powered expert committee and in the last two years, over 1,500 verification have been undertaken and in all cases, the EVM count and VVPAT count has matched.”

Echoing similar thoughts, a retired EC official said, “The device does not have to undergo additional authentication as it has been tested several times in the past. Even if the sample size count is increased, the losing candidate naturally blames the system.”

He stated that even if the size is increased to 50 per cent, politicians would cite the remaining machines that have not been verified and criticise the system. “It is not necessary that the sampling population should be increased,” he added.
On the question about storage of slips, the source from the committee said, “They are stored and will be counted in case

of a recount order issued by the judicial body, which is the reason it is called paper trail.”

Voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is the mechanism of providing feedback to voter through ballotless voting system. It allows the person to corroborate his/her vote and is an additional resource that comes to aid in case of political wrangling about the device being tampered with. After the vote is cast, the VVPAT machine shows the voter the party s/he has voted for. The paper then goes into the machine and is stored till needed.

Bhavani Prabhakar