Election Commission’s Theory on VVPAT Failure-challenged Former CEO

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New Delhi: The Election Commission declared that the reason behind the malfunctioning of a large number of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines during the recently held by-elections to the Kairana and Bhandara-Gondiya parliamentary constituencies was due to the “failure of contrast sensor” and “failure of length sensor” and that both these errors were “mainly caused by excessive exposure to illumination in the polling station” on Friday.

However, past and present EC officials present at a conclave on elections in India expressed surprise at this ‘finding’, since the VVPATs have undergone extensive tests under varying conditions in the past without malfunctioning.

Speaking at the conclave on “EVMs, Election Funding and the Election Commission” organised by a group of retired civil servants and armed forces veterans at the Indian Social Institute here, former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi noted with concern that VVPAT machines were failing despite undergoing tests in all kinds of weather conditions.

Quraishi, in whose term as CEC the testing of VVPATs had taken place from 2011 till their introduction in an election in Nagaland in September 2013, recalled how tests had first been conducted in wet and humid Kerala, dry and hot Jaisalmer, the cold high-altitude of Ladakh, rain-soaked Cherrapunji and Delhi. He said that since many machines had malfunctioned after the first round of tests, the necessary changes were made and they were again tested in all these five different locations.

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