EC rejects Opposition plea for VVPAT tally before vote count

Today’s counting sequence will remain as per SC-approved guidelines

23/05/2019 , Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI :

NEW DELHI 22/05/2019: Preparation in full swing at the counting centre at Badminton court, CWG Village, Sports Complex on the eve of counting of votes of the Lok Sabha election, in New Delhi on Wednesday.

A day ahead of the counting of votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, the Election Commission (EC) rejected the demand of Opposition parties for tallying of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in five polling booths in each Assembly segment with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), prior to the vote count.

In a statement on Wednesday, the EC said the VVPAT counting sequence would remain as per the Supreme Court-approved guidelines.

A delegation of 22 Opposition parties had met the full Election Commission on Tuesday. Among other things, they requested the EC to count the VVPAT slips before the start of counting of votes polled in EVMs.

‘In-depth’ discussions

Subsequently, the EC deliberated on the issue with senior officials concerned, and after two rounds of “in-depth” discussions, it arrived at the decision.

“It has neither been found possible nor feasible to accede to this demand in the overall context and especially in view of the judgment of the Supreme Court in writ petition (C) No.273 of 2019 delivered on April 8,” it said.

According to the EC, the judgment directs that the random selection of VVPATs be subjected to the process of slip verification as per the guidelines 16.6 of the EVM manual in force.

Procedural issues

“There were some other procedural issues like allowing counting agents of candidates along with all Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers, on which necessary instructions have already been reiterated and, wherever required, made more candidate-friendly,” the EC said.

The EC assured the political parties of strict adherence to the set procedures for the entire counting process, especially the security of the strong rooms and the counting centres.

The parties had also demanded that in case of any discrepancy in the EVM-VVPAT verification, 100% counting of the slips at all polling booths be done in that particular segment.

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