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Your vote trail to make debut

Ranchi, Aug. 17: The Election Commission of India will be giving enough reasons to elite voters to step out of their homes and try out the EVMs this time.

Four major cities of Jharkhand will go hi-tech with the introduction of the voter verifiable paper audit trail or VVPAT in EVMs, which will enable a person to know if his or her vote has gone to the candidate he has voted for, in the forthcoming Assembly polls, the dates of which are yet to be announced.

Although VVPAT was first used during a bypoll in a Nagaland Assembly seat in 2012, it came to be introduced in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but in some states. Jharkhand will have its first brush with the technology in the Assembly polls with around 2,600 of the total 24,751 booths getting it.

“The VVPATs will be used for the first time in Jharkhand during the ensuing Assembly elections. My office has selected five Assembly constituencies — Ranchi, Hatia, Dhanbad, Bokaro and Jamshedpur (East) — for use of VVPAT, which has been okayed by the EC,” chief electoral officer of Jharkhand P.K. Jajoria confirmed to The Telegraph.

VVPAT is a small display unit attached to EVMs. Once the EVM button is pressed, the glass-covered display unit shows a small slip carrying the symbol and the name of the candidate he or she has voted for. The slip is in the form of a small ballot paper and it stays inside the glass cover for around 4 seconds, enough for the voter to verify if his vote is cast right, and then automatically falls in a covered box.

What voters need to know is that the slips cannot be carried away by them to home. These stored ballots can also be used if there is recounting.

Jajoria said that VVPAT would be used only in urban areas because these display units, developed by Bharat Electronics Limited, were available in limited number. As it is a new system, the office of the chief electoral officer would impart training to the polling officials. “We would conduct the training soon after the election dates are announced,” Jajoria said.

Asked what would happen if a voter discovered that the party he/she voted for did not match with the one shown on the ballot slip, Jajoria said, “The voter will be allowed to cast vote once again. But before doing so, he or she will have to submit a declaration to the presiding officer under Section 46 D of Conduct of Election Rule 1961.”

He reminded that if a voter’s claim is found to be false, then there is a provision of imprisonment up to six months or a penalty of Rs 1,000 or both under the same act.

“Our main objective behind introducing VVPAT system is to draw more number of young and elite voters to the booths,” Jajoria signed off.