The administration of West Garo Hills is making elaborate arrangements to educate the electorates on the newly introduced Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), which will be used for the first time during election in Meghalaya.
The deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills Ram Singh on Monday made a presentation before the representative of all political parties and media professionals at Tura.
“VVPAT will be in use in all 473 polling stations across the district which allows the voter to see briefly a printed slip of after casting his vote,” Singh said.
With the VVPAT in use during polling, a voter who has cast his vote in an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) will also see on the screen of the VVPAT machine a printed copy containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate he has voted for. This ballot slip will be visible for seven seconds after which it will be cut and dropped in the printer’s drop box to be stored.
During Monday’s meeting on familiarization with the VVPAT, in which political parties and media persons took part, a ‘Hands on Demo’ was organized to create awareness with party representatives and other participants trying out the VVPAT machines and casting their vote in a mock exercise.
“This is for the first time in Meghalaya that the VVPAT machines are being introduced for polls and today’s exercise would be replicated in villages and far flung areas as well,” Singh said.
He said the awareness exercise is being taken up because there had earlier been many misconceptions about EVMs use in social media.
“This ‘Hands on Demo’ is being carried out before political parties and the maximum number of electors in villages and other areas to boost voters’ confidence and clear the air on misconceptions. These are the latest VVPAT machines,” the deputy commissioner said.
He also pointed out that with the presence of a paper trail any voter having a dispute on its performance will have to fill a declaration under law and if caught lying would be prosecuted.
Some of the political party representatives who witnessed the VVPAT demo included Grithalson Arengh of the Congress, Mathias Marak of the National People’s Party (NPP) and sitting MDC Augustine Marak representing the Garo National Council (GNC).
“I took part in the VVPAT demo and it was satisfying to see the vote cast by me as well as the ballot slip. Such an exercise will clear the air on voters concerns,” Grithalson Arengh said.
“The decision by the Election Commission of India to make it mandatory for VVPATs during voting is a very welcome step and will further boost the confidence of the voters,” Mathias Marak of the NPP said.
Sitting GHADC MDC Augustine Marak of the GNC, who is an aspiring candidate in the coming state elections from Siju-Rongara said the VVPAT system is being well accepted wherever it is being used.
“This will further strengthen democracy in our state and country,” Augustine Marak said.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner (Election) in West Garo Hills has informed all the concerned officials that the first phase of training for the upcoming General Election 2018 to Meghalaya Legislative Assembly for West Garo Hills district has been scheduled from January 10 to 12 and all those listed for training have been directed to attend without fail.