The Supreme Court of India has sought response from the Election Commission and the Central Government on a petition seeking comprehensive counting of VVPAT slips during elections.

    Transition from Paper Ballot System to EVMs:

    1. Before the introduction of EVMs, a paper ballot system was used in India, where voters cast their votes on ballot papers printed with the names and symbols of the candidates.
    2. Major issues associated with this system included invalid votes due to improper marking, ballot box stuffing, pre-marked ballots and manual counting errors.

    Inception and Development of EVMs:

    1. Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was first conceptualized by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in 1977.
    2. The work of designing and developing EVMs was entrusted to Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) in Hyderabad.
    3. A prototype was demonstrated in 1980, leading to consensus on its introduction.
    4. Subsequently, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) was brought on board to manufacture EVMs in collaboration with ECIL.

    Initial Use and Legal Challenges:

    1. EVMs were first used in a limited capacity in the Paravur constituency of Ernakulam district during the 1982 Kerala Legislative Assembly election.
    2. However, the Supreme Court struck down that election due to the lack of any specific law allowing their use.
    3. Subsequently, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 was amended in 1989 to provide for the use of EVMs in elections.

    Gradual Expansion and Nationwide Adoption:

    1. There was widespread consensus on the use of EVMs in 1998, resulting in their deployment in 25 assembly constituencies in three states: Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.
    2. In June 1999 the entire state of Goa used EVMs to elect a new state assembly.
    3. In 1999 their use was extended to 45 parliamentary constituencies.
    4. In 2001, EVMs were used in all assembly constituencies in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry And West Bengal.
    5. Ultimately, in the 2004 Lok Sabha general election, EVMs were used in all parliamentary constituencies across the country.

    Understanding EVM Technology and Components:

    Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) consist of 3 primary components:

    1. Ballot Unit (BU): Displays the names and symbols of candidates for voters to cast their votes.
    2. Control Unit (CU): Placed with the Presiding Officer, manages the voting process and coordinates with the Ballot Unit and VVPAT.
    3. Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT): An independent system that generates a paper slip showing the serial number, name, and symbol of the chosen candidate, allowing voters to verify their votes.

    Introduction of VVPAT:

    1. The Government of India notified the amended Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 on August 14, 2013, enabling the Election Commission to use VVPATs along with EVMs.
    2. VVPAT was first introduced on September 4, 2013 in the by-election for Noksen assembly constituency of Nagaland.
    3. VVPAT is designed to provide voters with a physical record of their votes, increasing transparency and verifiability.
    4. The printed paper slips are stored in a sealed drop box of the VVPAT for possible manual verification if required.

    Supreme Court's Directive on VVPAT Verification:

    1. In April 2019, the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to increase the number of EVMs undergoing VVPAT verification per assembly constituency from one to five in the parliamentary constituency.
    2. The objective of this directive is to ensure greater accuracy and transparency in the electoral process.

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