Recently, the Supreme Court rejected all pleas seeking 100% EVM-VVPAT verification.

Key Highlights of the Case:

  • The petition was filed by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), seeking a reversal of the Election Commission’s 2017 decision to replace the transparent glass on VVPAT machines with an opaque one. This allows voters to view the slip only when the light is on for seven seconds.
  • It also advocated that the court order the cross-verification of 100% EVMs and VVPATs nationwide. Presently, only five percent of EVM-VVPAT counts undergo random verification in each Assembly constituency. Previously set at one percent, this rate increased following the Supreme Court’s intervention.
  • The Supreme Court rejected pleas for complete EVM-VVPAT verification.
  • The court directed the sealing and securing of Symbol Loading Units (SLU) after the process of loading symbols into VVPATs in a designated container in the presence of candidates or their representatives. These containers will then be stored in a strong room along with the EVMs for 45 days following the declaration of the election results.
  • The court also ruled that candidates can opt for microcontroller program verification of EVMs by a team of engineers after the results are declared.
  • During the previous hearing, the Supreme Court posed numerous “technical questions” to the Election Commission regarding the cross-verification of votes cast in electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)

  • An Electronic Voting Machine consists of two Units —a Control Unit and a Ballooning Unit—joined by a five-meter cable. 
  • The Control Unit is placed with the Presiding Officer or a Polling Officer, and the Balloting Unit is placed inside the voting compartment. 
  • Instead of issuing a ballot paper, the Polling Officer in charge of the Control Unit will release a ballot by pressing the Ballot Button on the Control Unit. 
  • This enables the voter to cast his vote by pressing the button on the Balloting Unit against the candidate and symbol of his choice.

Election Commission’s Response:

  • The Election Commission (EC) explained that manually counting VVPAT slips from a single polling station takes approximately one hour.
  • The small size and unique nature of the paper make the slips sticky, complicating the manual counting process.
  • Counting personnel are under significant mental pressure in the charged environment of a counting centre, which contributes to the slow speed of counting VVPAT slips.
  • The EC informed that there have been 41,629 instances of random verification to date Over four crore VVPAT paper slips have been matched without a single instance of mismatch.
  • Each EVM unit (ballot unit, VVPAT, and chip) contains its own microcontroller securely housed within an unauthorised access detection module, preventing external access.
  • All microcontrollers are one-time programmable, meaning they are permanently programmed upon insertion and cannot be altered thereafter.
  • The election body clarified the time frame for filing election petitions, stating that all machines are kept in strong rooms for 45 days. If a petition is submitted, the room remains locked and sealed; otherwise, it is opened.
  • Responding to the query about sealing units, the Commission explained that the control unit is sealed because it stores polling data. Furthermore, all three units are sealed with a pink seal when commissioned, and the VVPAT is additionally sealed with signatures collected from all polling agents.

Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

  • First introduced in India during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
  • It consists of an independent system consisting of a VVPAT Printer and VVPAT Status Display Unit (VSDU) attached to Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). 
  • It allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.

Verification Process:

  • When a vote is cast, a slip is printed with the candidate’s serial number, name, and symbol.
  • The printed slip remains visible through a transparent window for 7 seconds before automatically cutting and falling into the sealed drop box of the VVPAT.

Usage for Verification:

  • Results of EVMs can be verified using the slips kept in VVPAT drop boxes.
  • VVPAT slips are considered authoritative in cases where verification is needed due to accusations of fraud or miscalculation.
  • Voter verification typically occurs in extreme circumstances.
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) can request VVPAT verification in response to complaints.

Technical Details:

  • VVPAT and EVMs are separate entities and are not connected to any network.
  • Developed by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).

Purpose and Benefits:

  • Enhances transparency and credibility of the electoral process.
  • Provides voters with assurance that their votes are cast as intended.
  • Allows for manual verification and recounting of votes in case of disputes.
  • Acts as a deterrent against electoral fraud and manipulation.


A balanced approach is essential to enhance transparency in the electoral process while maintaining its efficiency and integrity. By promoting dialogue and implementing robust oversight mechanisms, we can uphold the principles of transparency and fairness, ensuring elections remain a cornerstone of democracy.

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