EC’s bid to conduct the 2019 general elections using an entirely new set of electronic voting machines with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is running four weeks behind schedule. While the general elections are scheduled to be held in May 2019, the 16-lakh VVPAT machines to be used in the polls were to be received by September 2018. According to EC officials, who are closely monitoring the procurement of the machines, the delay has been caused by minor ‘slippages’ related to security of EVMs. EC officials, however, said the plan to use VVPAT machines in 2019 was still on track and such machines would be used across all booths for the first time. ET has learnt that in a review meeting on Wednesday, there were discussions around the security of EVMs which has led to the delay. “Even though we are looking at using new EVMs for the election, it is important that all loose ends related to security are cleared,” a highly placed official said.
Some of the ‘slippages’ discussed with manufacturers include retaining all data in case of tampering or any form of physical damage caused to the EVM during the polls. “In case of physical damage or tampering, we want to ensure that the machine does not go back to original settings and lose all the data (mainly votes cast before the damage occurred),” the official said.
“These are technical improvements suggested by our technical committee to ensure fair elections and we have a window period of six months before the polls are conducted,” the official said. EC has also reviewed the preparation for the Gujarat and Himachal elections, and has come to the conclusion that preparations are ‘on track’.