The 2019 Lok Sabha election will be conducted using 16 lakh new Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the acquisition of which was approved by the Union Cabinet today through a Rs 3000 crore grant.
The Election Commission today said it is working on a September 2018 deadline to acquire the new EVMs, which will be manufactured by the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL).
"The Commission shall closely monitor production of VVPATs for timely delivery well before the general elections of 2019. The commission will ensure total compliance of the Supreme Court orders and its committment to use VVPATs with every EVM at all poll stations in 2019," the poll panel said.
A number of Opposition parties have questioned the use of EVMs without paper trail and even alleged rigging after the recent Assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh. Sixteen parties had recently petitioned the Election Commission to revert to paper ballot system for greater transparency.
A 2013 Supreme Court order says the Election Commission must introduce new EVM machines, called VVPATs (Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail), in phases. Since June 2014, the Commission has given at least 11 reminders to the government seeking funds for the VVPAT machines.
The funds were finally released today by the Union Cabinet which cleared a proposal of the Election Commission to procure paper trail machines for use during future elections.
WHAT IS VVPAT MACHINE?
The VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home.
The voters see voter-verifiable paper audit trail slip for seven seconds, which would be an acknowledgement receipt for the party they voted for in the election.