Tanya Shrivastava

The Supreme Court on Tuesday examined the secret ballot voting method during a review of petitions requesting a comparison of votes cast on Electronic Voting Machines with paper slips from the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system.During the hearing, the apex court pointed out the problems with the method."We all know what happened when there were ballot papers...we have not forgotten," Justice Sanjiv Khanna told Prashant Bhushan, counsel for one of the petitioners, Association for Democratic Reforms.

Why does this story matter?

The issue of vote verification first surfaced in 2009 when Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy approached the Delhi High Court after his party's loss in the general election.Swamy advocated for a paper trail system in the EVMs as a means to provide assurance that a voter's vote for a particular candidate has been correctly recorded.After his petition was dismissed by the high court, he moved the Supreme Court.


2013 judgment on paper trail

In its 2013 judgment, the Supreme Court agreed with Swamy's argument, stating that a "paper trail" is essential for free and fair elections.This ruling led to the implementation of the VVPAT system, which generates a paper slip as proof of vote recording. However, currently only slips from five randomly selected EVMs in each assembly constituency or each assembly segment in a parliamentary constituency are physically verified.

Tampering fears

Concerns raised over potential EVM tampering

Bhushan voiced concerns about potential EVM tampering and suggested that voters should be allowed to take the VVPAT slip and deposit it into a ballot box.Bhushan also argued how most European countries that had opted for voting through EVMs have returned to the paper ballots.Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan, representing another petitioner, agreed with Bhushan's points but clarified they were not implying any misconduct in the current system.

SC reviews pleas for VVPAT cross-verification

The top court was reviewing a clutch of petitions seeking the verification of votes cast via VVPAT machine.The petitions, filed by the ADR and activist Arun Kumar Agarwal, call for a more extensive verification process.Specifically, Agarwal has requested that all VVPAT slips be counted.The ADR's petition urges the court to direct the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Centre to ensure voters can use VVPATs to confirm their vote has been counted as recorded.

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