From our correspondent
Tura, Jan 8: The administration of West Garo Hills is making elaborate arrangements to enlighten the electorates on the newly introduced Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), which will be used for the first time during election in Meghalaya.
Deputy Commissioner of West Garo Hills Ram Singh on Monday made a presentation before the representative of all political parties and media professiols at Tura.
“VVPAT will be in use in all polling stations across the State, which allows the voter to see briefly a printed slip of his casting his vote,” said Singh.
Singh stated that the VVPAT will be in use in all 473 polling stations across the district.
With the VVPAT in use during polling, a voter who has cast his ballot in an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) will also see on the screen of the VVPAT machine a printed copy containing the serial number, me 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 among party representatives and participants who tried the VVPAT machines and cast their vote during the mock exercise. “This is the first time in Meghalaya that the VVPAT machines are being introduced for polls and today’s exercise would be conducted in villages and far flung areas as well,” said Singh.
He added that the awareness exercise was being taken up as there were many misconceptions in social media regarding the use of EVMs.
“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,” said the deputy commissioner.
With the presence of a paper trail, Singh said, any voter facing problem with VVPAT will have to fill a declaration under law and if found lying would be prosecuted.
Some of the political party representatives that witnessed the VVPAT demo included Grithalson Arengh of the Congress, Mathias Marak of the tiol People’s Party (NPP) and sitting MDC Augustine Marak representing the Garo tiol 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 of misconception among voters,” said Grithalson Arengh of the Congress.
“The decision by the Election Commission of India to use the VVPATs mandatory during voting is a very welcome step and will further boost the confidence of the voters,” stated Mathias Marak of the NPP.
Sitting GHADC MDC Augustine Marak of the GNC, who is a candidate in the coming state elections from Siju-Rongara, said that the VVPAT system is being well accepted and will further strengthen democracy in our state and country.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner (Election) in West Garo Hills has informed all the officials concerned that the first phase of training for the upcoming Assembly election 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.