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The Election Commission On Friday said it that verification of 50 percent of the votes cast in the Lok Sabha elections using the Voter verified paper Audit Trail machines, as demanded by some opposition parties, will cause a delay of six months in the counting.

Opposing the petition by the opposition parties that sought the verification, the  EC said that there is no need to increase the VVPAT count to match it with EVM. It said the the existing system is fool-proof  and increasing the VVPAT count will cause a delay of 6 months in the counting

The commission was responding to a Supreme Court notice served on it after 21 Opposition parties wanted to to verify at least 50% of the votes cast in the Lok Sabha elections using the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the poll body to respond  last week. The  also also challenged the EC’s decision to verify ballots cast at just one randomly selected booth in each constituency. The petitioners say this will tally only 0.44% of the votes. “This guideline defeats the entire purpose of VVPAT and makes it ‘ornamental’,” the opposition petition had said. The parties also want stricter standards and safety norms instituted to prevent tampering of electronic voting machines.

The parties that have approached the court include the Congress, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Derek O’Brien for the Trinamool Congress, Farooq Abdullah for the National Conference, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

In February, Naidu had said that several Opposition parties will move the Supreme Court against EVMs. Naidu said the decision was taken during a meeting of 15 opposition parties, who raised questions about the credibility of electronic voting machines a number of times in the last two years. However, the Election Commission has repeatedly denied allegations that the machines can be tampered with.

–India Legal Bureau

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