ANI Photo | SC seeks clarification from ECI official on pleas seeking 100% verification of EVM votes with VVPAT slips

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought answers to some queries from the Election Commission of India while hearing a batch of pleas seeking complete cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta queried an Election Commission official related to the functioning of the EVMs, including whether the microcontrollers fitted in them are reprogrammable.
The bench among other issues sought clarity from the ECI official on whether the microcontroller is installed in the controlling unit or the VVPAT and the flash memory of the microcontrollers in EVMs cannot be reprogrammed.
The official response, “All three units, ballot units, vvpat and the chip… all have their own micro controllers and these micro controllers are housed in secured unauthorised access detection module and it cannot be accessed. All the micro controllers are one time programmable. It is burned when inserted so can never be changed. For symbol loading we have two manufacturers, one is ECI and Bharat Electronics.”
The top court said that it would consider passing directions to strengthen the EVM system since going back to ballot paper was out of the question.
“Let us see what can be done if any safeguards needed we will see what is needed to strengthen the current system (EVMs),” said the bench.
In the morning, the bench had said it needed clarification on certain aspects as there was some confusion over the answers given by the ECI to ‘frequently asked questions’ (FAQs) about EVMs and officials to be present in court at 2 pm to clear its queries.
The petitions sought cross-verification by the voters of votes cast by them as “counted as recorded” in the EVMs with VVPAT.
Currently, VVPAT slips of five randomly selected EVMs in every Assembly segment are verified.
The apex court was hearing a plea seeking more extensive verification of EVM data against VVPAT records.
The requirement of the voters verifying that their votes have been “recorded as cast” is somewhat met when the VVPAT slip is displayed for about seven seconds after pressing the button on the EVM through a transparent window for the voters to verify that their vote has been recorded on the internally printed VVPAT slip before the slip falls into the ‘ballot box’, the plea stated.
It said that however, there is a complete vacuum in law as the poll panel has provided no procedure for the voter to verify that his/ her vote has been ‘counted as recorded’ which is an indispensable part of voter verifiability

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