Onmanorama Explains | What to do if there's a symbol mismatch on your VVPAT slip on voting day

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As the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections approaches, questions regarding the accuracy and integrity of the voting system have emerged, particularly concerning discrepancies between Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips and voters' chosen candidates. The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought clarification from the Election Commission on certain aspects regarding the functioning of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and the VVPAT ahead of Phase 2 of the Lok Sabha elections.

Here's a comprehensive guide on how to address such concerns. If a voter alleges that the paper slip shows a candidate different from the one she has voted for, according to Rule 49MA of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, the presiding officer must:

1. Obtain a written declaration from the voter regarding the allegation, after warning about the consequences of a false declaration.

2. Allow the voter to record a test vote in the presence of candidates or polling agents and observe the paper slip.

3. If the allegation is confirmed, report to the returning officer, cease further voting in that machine and follow the returning officer's directions.

4. If the allegation is false and matches the test vote, annotate the voter's details in Form 17A, obtain their signature or thumb impression, and record the test vote in Form 17C.

Pre-recorded votes
To ensure transparency, before polling begins, the presiding officer demonstrates to polling agents that there are no pre-recorded votes in the machine. Additionally, a mock poll is conducted with at least 50 votes, verified by polling agents, before clearing the machine for actual voting.
It's important to note that changing the paper roll at polling stations is strictly prohibited.

Sealing of voting paraphernalia
After the announcement of results, the printed VVPAT paper slips, whether counted or not, remain sealed along with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in a secure strong room until the end of the Election Petition period.

Previous cases
While concerns about EVM tampering have led to petitions in various courts since 2001, none of they were proven in courts where such issues have been raised, including the Madras High Court, Kerala High Court, Delhi High Court, Karnataka High Court, Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench), Uttarakhand High Court, and the Supreme Court of India.

The Election Commission of India has told the Supreme Court that no mismatch has been detected ever between the votes counted in EVM and VVPAT. The ECI said that it has matched the EVM votes with more than 4 crore VVPAT slips and no instance of mismatch has been found so far.

Other complaints
The National Grievance Service Portal (NGSP) is a web-based solution for grievance support on a single interface for handling complaints by Election officials and citizens. The citizen can register and create their profile in the portal using their mobile number. This portal keeps a record of all the complaints lodged by a citizen in his profile.

Once a complaint is registered, the reference ID will be sent to the registered mobile number and mail ID. After complaining, it gets assigned to the appropriate Election official for investigation. The official is required to respond to the complaint within a specified period.

The citizen can view the response time of the complaint and the response of the officers to his complaint.

Type of complaints allowed:

  • Voter registration
  • Polling booth locations
  • Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)
  • Election expenditure
  • Electoral malpractice

How to register a complaint:

  1. Go to the NGSP website- https://voters.eci.gov.in/
  2. Click on the "Register Complaint" button.
  3. Select the type of complaint you want to register.
  4. Provide your personal details, such as your name, address, and contact information.
  5. Provide details of your complaint.
  6. Upload any supporting documents (If any).
  7. Click on the "Submit" button.
  8. Once you have submitted your complaint, you will receive an email confirmation. You can also track the status of your complaint online.
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