EC rejects Opposition plea for VVPAT tally before vote count

A day in advance of the counting of votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, the Election Commission (EC) rejected the demand of Opposition events for tallying of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in 5 polling cubicles in every Assembly segment with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), prior to the vote count.
In a statement on Wednesday, the EC stated the VVPAT counting sequence would remain as per the Supreme Court-approved guidelines.
A delegation of 22 Opposition events had met the full Election Commission on Tuesday. Among different things, they requested the EC to remember the VVPAT slips before the start of counting of votes polled in EVMs.
‘In-depth’ discussions
Subsequently, the EC deliberated on the difficulty with senior officials concerned, and after two rounds of “in-depth” discussions, it arrived at the decision.
“It has neither been discovered possible nor viable to accede to this demand in the common context and in particular 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 choice of VVPATs be subjected to the method of slip verification as per the recommendations 16.6 of the EVM manual in force.
Procedural issues
“There have been some different procedural problems like allowing counting agents of candidates along with all Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers, on which critical directions have already been reiterated and, at any place required, made greater candidate-friendly,” the EC said.
The EC guaranteed the political parties of strict adherence to the set techniques for the complete counting process, mainly the security of the robust rooms and the counting centres.
The parties had additionally demanded that in case of any discrepancy in the EVM-VVPAT verification, 100% counting of the slips at all polling cubicles be completed in that particular segment.

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