All Himachal polling stations to have paper audit trail

All Himachal polling stations to have paper audit trail

New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines will be used in all the 7,000-odd polling stations in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A.K. Joti said on Thursday.

Himachal Pradesh is the second state where 100 per cent VVPAT deployment will be done. It was used in all polling stations in Goa in February this year.

Paper slips from one randomly selected polling station from each constituency will be counted and matched with ballot unit figures, Joti said.

He said when a voter casts his or her vote on the electronic voting machine (EVM), the VVPAT unit attached will churn out a slip measuring 10x5.6 cm showing the serial number, name and the symbol voted for. It will flash for seven seconds before it falls in the box.

"We have issued detailed instructions to the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) that the main focus of our SVEEP activities must be to familiarise the voters with VVPAT and its use because it is difficult for a common man to understand what a VVPAT is," the CEC said.

"So the voter can now see and verify that his vote went to the right candidate. The most important thing in transparency and credibility in election is that a voter can verify himself that his vote went to the right person. I think this is a unique system in India," Joti said.

Besides, there would be several 'firsts' in the Himachal election. For the first time, each of the 68 assembly constituencies would have two "all-women" polling stations where all the polling staff including the security personnel will be women. There will be 136 such polling stations in the state.

Also, for the first time the electronically transmitted postal ballot system (ETPBS) will be used in all the constituencies for service voters. Under this system, a ballot paper bearing names and symbols of all the candidates is electronically sent to the service voters, who then after inking it, send it back to the EC through normal postal service.

The ETPBS was earlier used on a pilot basis in some constituencies of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur and in all 40 constituencies in Goa in the assembly elections held earlier this year.

Also, to enhance the secrecy of the ballot, the poll panel has increased the height of voting compartment from 24 inches to 30 inches. The compartment would be uniformly made of corrugated plastic sheet of steel grey colour which is completely opaque and reusable, the EC said.

In another first, the EC will distribute a voter guide brochure in the local languages to every household ahead of the polling. The brochure will contain information such as the date and time of polling, contact details of BLO, important websites, helpline numbers and the documents required for identification at the polling station apart from 'Dos' and Don'ts' for voters at the polling station.

The state is scheduled to go to polls on November 9. The results will be declared on December 18.

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