The poll panel said it has enhanced the requirement of additional VVPATs from 125 per cent to 135 per cent considering the trend of failure rate of VVPATs in past elections, besides adopting the hardware improvement for the machines in view of a large number of paper trail units failure in Kairana and Bhadara-Gondiya by-polls earlier this year.
“In order to meet the requirement of 100 per cent voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines for all polling stations for the upcoming Lok Sabha Election in 2019, the Commission placed an order of 17.45 lakh VVPATs to Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bangalore and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad.
“To date, 9.45 lakh units have been produced by the firms. Both the public sector firms have assured the Commission that the remaining VVPAT units (8 lakh) will be manufactured and supplied to the various states and Union Territories comfortably before the end of November this year,” the EC said in a statement.
The poll panel said it has been “consistently and periodically” reviewing the status of production and supply of VVPAT units with the top brass of BEL and ECIL.
It said it is also keeping in touch with the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) – which is carrying out a “rigorous supervision” of the production process and product performance – to ensure that the design, production and supply activities of all the units of EVMs and VVPATs are “streamlined and completed in a time-bound manner” after incorporating the features suggested by the TEC.
“The officers of the Commission are monitoring the manufacturing and supply of machines on a daily basis in order to ensure timely delivery and pre-poll preparedness,” the EC said.
The Commission has estimated 171 per cent Ballot Units, 125 per cent Control Units and 135 per cent VVPATs requirements for upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
In case of any error in VVPAT, only VVPAT is replaced with the reserve one, whereas, in case of any error in Ballot Unit or Control Unit of the EVM, the entire set of Ballot Unit, Control Unit and VVPAT is changed, resulting in more requirement of VVPATs than of Control Units of EVMs.
“Learning from experience of Kairana and Bhandara-Gondiya bye-polls held in May 2018 where the errors were mainly caused by excessive exposure to illumination in the polling stations, the Commission has adopted the hardware improvement recommended by the TEC to prevent auto shutdown of VVPATs due to excessive light,” it said.
The EC said systematic preparatory activities, including the detailed first level checking of EVMs and VVPATs, have already commenced across various states/UTs ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, and will be completed in an efficient, effective and timely manner.
“First level checks workshops and trainings of polling officials are being regularly conducted by the Commission to minimize EVM and VVPAT failures due to human errors,” the poll panel said.
In the last 20 years, the EC has conducted 113 state assembly elections and three Lok Sabha elections using EVMs. Since June 2017, VVPAT machines have also been used along with EVMs in general as well as by-elections.