The Election Comm-ission has decided to go ahead with the use of thermal paper rolls for printing voter verifiable paper slips, ignoring the written protest of the Congress. In a memorandum submitted to the commission last month, the Congress had pointed out that thermal paper should not be used, as the print vanishes in a fortnight or so, and cannot be of any use if the paper slips are to be counted.
A Congress leader said the EC has announced physical counting of the paper slips in one polling station in each constituency in the Himachal and Gujarat Assembly elections, but the gap of 49 days in Himachal Pradesh between polling on November 9 and counting on December 18 will result in only blank slips remaining in the boxes.
He said the Congress wanted use of ink that does not play the vanishing trick as at times the paper slips may have to be retained for re-counting or in case an election petition is filed. The Commission has also decided that the number of voters per polling station should not exceed 1,400 as the paper roll attached to the paper trail machine cannot print more than 1,500 slips and attaching a new roll when polling is on is a cumbersome process.
All polling stations in Himachal Pradesh assembly polls will have paper trail machines. Himachal Pradesh will be the second state after Goa with 100 per cent paper trail coverage. The paper trail machines will be deployed along with EVMs in all the 7,521 polling stations, including 42 auxiliary polling stations at remote places.
In case of a discrepancy in the results of the EVM and the paper trail machines, the outcome of the paper slip will prevail, a senior EC official explained. VVPAT will be used in all polling stations in all future Lok Sabha and assembly polls. VVPAT machines dispense slips with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted. The slip drops in a box but the voter cannot take it home.