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Increase VVPAT sample audits: SC gives week’s time to 21 parties to reply to EC

In its affidavit to the court, the Election Commission states that the Lok Sabha Election results would be delayed by six whole days if the Opposition parties' demand is met.

After the Election Commission opposed the petition filed by 21 Opposition leaders through which they had sought direction that 50 per cent EVM results should be matched and cross-checked with VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail), the Supreme Court Monday gave the parties a week’s time to file their reply. The next hearing will be held on April 8.

In its affidavit to the court, the Election Commission has stated that the Lok Sabha Election results would be delayed by six whole days if the Opposition parties’ demand is met.

Maintaining it was in favour of continuing the existing system of random checking of VVPAT slips from one EVM per assembly segment for the Lok Sabha and assembly polls, the EC said “the present system has been adopted after detailed study and consideration of all aspects, and bringing into play all safeguards and checks as have been felt necessary”. It added that to alter the system “when polls are imminent and polling is to commence from April 11, 2019… might not be feasible”. Click here for more election news

It said that in many assembly constituencies, there are more than 400 polling stations, and it will require about eight-nine days to complete the VVPAT slip count. There will also likely be demands for a recount of the VVPAT slips, and this will further increase the time, the affidavit stated.

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Appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi submitted that the demand for random verification in at least 50 per cent EVMs with VVPAT was in the interest of free and fair elections, which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

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The petitioners include Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP, Sharad Chandra Pawar of the NCP, Congress leader K C Venugopal, TMC leader Derek O’Brien, Sharad Yadav of the Loktantrik Janata Dal, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Chandra Mishra of the BSP, DMK leader M K Stalin, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and National Congress leader Farooq Abdullah.

Lok Sabha Elections in the country are scheduled to be held in seven phases from April 11, 2019, to May 19, 2019. The counting of votes for all phases will take place on May 23 and results will also be declared on the same day.

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