Citizens' group calls for foolproof counting of votes

    Kolkata, Jan 31 (PTI) The Citizens Commission on
Elections (CCE), a civil society group of retired judges,
former civil servants and activists, has called upon tbe
Election Commission of India (ECI) to ensure foolproof
counting of votes.
    The CCE released its first report on making proper and
effective tamper-proof use of EVMs at the Kolkata Press Club
on Saturday.
    "With elections in the offing, voters confidence in
the electoral process needs to be secured and EVM voting
should abide by principles of democracy.
    "Our technologists consulted best universities in the
West and both are alarmed at the present inadequacy of EVMs,
more because elections are near in West Bengal, Assam,
Kerala," the CCE said in a statement.
    The public initiative is chaired by retired Supreme
Court judge Justice Madan Lokur. The eight-member committee
comprises former CIC Wajahat Habibullah, former Madras high
court Judge Justice Hari Paranthaman, economist Arun Kumar,
civil society activist John Dayal, senior journalist Pamela
Philipose, and Dr Subhashis Banerjee, professor of computer
science at IIT Delhi.
    Former CEO of Prasar Bharati Jawahar Sircar, who
presented the report, told PTI on Sunday, the CCE is of the
view that there should be full utilisation of Voter Verifiable
Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) so that there are zero anomalies
during counting.
    "The EC is yet to vet the use of VVPAT with every EVM
in our polls. They are of the view that tallying the marked
paper slip with the electronic voting recorded in the machine
processor chip will take lot of extra time. However, for each
machine it will take less than half an hour extra time,"
Sircar said.
    The VVPAT is an independent printer like system
attached with the EVM that allows the voters to verify that
their votes are cast as intended. The VVPAT consists of a
Printer and a VVPAT Status Display Unit (VSDU).
    When a vote is cast, a slip is printed on the VVPAT
printer containing the serial number, name and symbol of the
candidate for whom the voter has cast his ballot and it can be
seen/verified by the voter for 7 seconds through a transparent
window Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut
and falls in sealed drop box of the VVPAT.
    Claiming that the EC's conduct of parliamentary
elections of 2019 had "invited serious controversy and its
very fairness came to be questioned by several organisations
on very valid grounds," the organisers said seminars and
wide-ranging public discussions were held on the issue in 2019
and 2020.
    "A unanimous suggestion that emanated from this
process was the need to constitute a body comprising eminent
and experienced persons with domain knowledge to delve into
critical aspects related to elections in India," the statement
    The CCE was constituted in March 2020, with the
mandate to draw upon expert advice, wherever necessary,
and come up with appropriate suggestions to ensure that
elections in the country are conducted in a free and fair
    Physical verification of VVPAT slips with the EVM
count was done across over 20,000 polling station before
declaration of Lok Sabha poll results in 2019, as per Supreme
Court orders. PTI SUS

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)