What is Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)?

April 2, 2024

The Supreme Court recently sought responses from the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Centre on a plea seeking a comprehensive count VVPAT slips in elections.

About Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT):

  • It was first introduced in India in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It is an independent system that consists of two parts, namely, a VVPAT Printer and VVPAT Status Display Unit (VSDU) attached to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), that allow the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.
  • When a vote is cast, a slip is printed containing the serial number, name, and symbol of the candidate and remains exposed through a transparent window for 7 seconds. Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls into the sealed drop box of the VVPAT.
  • How is VVPAT used for verification?
    • The results of EVMs can be verified using the slips kept in the drop boxes of VVPAT machines. It can be accessed by the polling officials, but not by the voters.
    • The paper slips are deemed to be more authoritative than EVM tallies in cases where VVPAT slips are utilised to verify votes.
    • Voter verification, however, is only done in extreme circumstances, such as when there are accusations of fraud or miscalculation.
    • The ECI has the authority to request that votes be verified using VVPAT slips in response to such complaints.
    • At present, the VVPAT slips are counted in a randomly-selected polling station in each Assembly constituency or Parliamentary constituency, depending upon the nature of the elections being held.
  • The ECI has clarified that EVMs and VVPATs are separate entities and are not connected to any network.
  • These machines are developed by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).