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VVPAT snags hit bypolls, decision on repoll today | India News

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NEW DELHI: Malfunctioning VVPATs (paper trail counts) marred parliamentary and assembly bypolls on Monday, forcing the Election Commission to use over 1,200 reserve machines. The EC announced that it would take a call on the extent of repolling on Tuesday after receiving reports from its observers. As per convention, if polling is disrupted for over two hours, it is taken as a valid reason to order a repoll in that particular polling booth.

An EC fact-sheet said the percentage of VVPATs that had to be replaced was 20.8% in Kairana, 19.2% in Bhandara-Gondiya, 13.2% in Palghar assembly, 12.4% in Maheshtala assembly and 11% in Shahkot assembly. Across all four parliamentary seats and nine assembly seats where bypolls were held on Monday, 11.6% VVPATs had to be replaced, even as the percentage of EVMs replaced was less than 1%. BJP and the opposition demanded repolling in several booths.

The EC has asked engineers to study reasons for VVPAT malfunctioning with officials pointing to their use on a large scale and the unfamiliarity of those superintending elections as possible reasons, besides high temperatures in areas like Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur assembly seats in UP.

On the other hand, the malfunctioning of EVMs was well within the normal range at 1%. The SP-BSP-Congress combine, as well as BJP, met the EC calling for a repoll even as EC officials said its experts will examine if the faults were due to malfunctioning of sensors due to heat, any other technical snag or improper installation or handling of machines by the polling staff.

The EC will examine if polling staff was properly trained, especially with regard to VVPATs. In the Kairana Lok Sabha seat, comprising 1,705 polling stations, 355 of 488 “reserve” VVPATs were used. In Bhandara-Gondiya, 413 of 429 “reserve” VVPATs replaced malfunctioning machines. As many as 279 of the 339 “reserve” VVPATs were used in Noorpur. There were complaints of delay where machines had to be replaced with candidates calling for an extension of polling.

Updated: May 28, 2018 — 11:08 pm

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