‘Over 2,400 VVPAT machines malfunctioned’


The Hindu

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BEL engineers to look into the matter, says Chief Electoral Officer

A “very high” percentage of voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines deployed in the elections on Saturday malfunctioned either minutes before the polling started or during the polling. The Election Commission put the figure at 4.18 % of the total 57,786 VVPAT machines deployed.

“The percentage of VVPATs that developed snag is very high. However, the percentage is still lower than the acceptable limit of 5%,” Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar told reporters here on Sunday. In all, 2,419 VVPAT machines developed technical glitches, of which 1,702 were during the polling. Instances of polling getting disrupted owing to glitches in VVPAT machines or EVMs had been reported from across the State.

Mr. Kumar said the commission had taken note of it. “BEL engineers will also be looking into the matter, ” he said.

In fact, the malfunctioning of a VVPAT unit at Gandhi Vidyalaya Kannada and Tamil School at Lottegollahalli in Hebbal constituency has been termed as “first of its kind” in the electoral process that forced the election authorities to announce repolling on Monday. The button against serial no. 9 on the EVM, which had been allotted to an Independent, got stuck and even before anyone pressed a button to cast vote, the VVPAT machine was generating the paper slip.

The commission ordered repolling following recommendation by BEL engineers.

According to Mr. Kumar, the number of EVMs that malfunctioned was far lower and was within the acceptable limit. Of the 64,297 balloting units (BUs), 693 or about 1.07% malfunctioned. This included 458 BUs that malfunctioned during the polling. Similarly, of the 57,786 control units (CUs) that were deployed, 815 or 1.41% malfunctioned, and this included 458 CUs that malfunctioned during the polling process.

Repolling in three booths

There will be repolling in three booths — one in Hebbal constituency of Bengaluru and two in Kushtagi in Koppal district — on Monday, in which 3,127 voters will have an opportunity to cast their votes again.

While the Election Commission on Saturday ordered repolling in a booth at Lottegollahalli in Hebbal constituency as a VVPAT machine malfunctioned, repolling was ordered in Kushtagi booth numbers 20 and 21 as electors cast their votes in a wrong booth.

Mr. Kumar said, “In the electoral rolls, 275 voters had been shifted from booth no. 20 to 21. However, they were allowed to vote in booth no. 20 as there was some confusion in the mother roll and the supplementary roll. Repolling here is owing to legal issues. It is certainly the mistake of officials. Disciplinary action will be taken against the officials.”

When asked on which finger will these people be inked, he said the indelible ink would be applied on the middle finger of the left hand.

Counting

The Election Commission has said that about 11,000 officials will be involved in the counting of votes across 38 centres in the State. While Tumakuru has three counting centres, Dakshin Kannada, Chitradurga, and Mysuru will have two centres each, and the rest of the electoral districts will have one each.

Currently, the EVMs are kept in the centres under police protection.

Expenditure

At least ₹ 400 crore has been spent on conducting the Assembly elections. “It is about ₹400 crore and it may go up as the election process is still not over,” Mr. Kumar said.

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