Voter-verified paper audit trail

Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) or verified paper record (VPR) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballotless voting system. A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results. It contains the name of the candidate (for whom vote has been cast) and symbol of the party/individual candidate.

The VVPAT offers some fundamental differences as a paper, rather than electronic recording medium when storing votes. A paper VVPAT is readable by the human eye and voters can directly interpret their vote. Computer memory requires a device and software which potentially is proprietary. Insecure voting machine[1] records could potentially be changed quickly without detection by the voting machine itself. It would be more difficult for voting machines to corrupt records without human intervention. Corrupt or malfunctioning voting machines might store votes other than as intended by the voter unnoticed. A VVPAT allows voters to verify their votes are cast as intended and this system can serve as an additional barrier to changing or destroying votes.

The VVPAT includes a direct recording electronic voting system (DRE), to assure voters that their votes have been recorded as intended. It is intended, and some argue necessary, as a means by which to detect fraud and equipment malfunction. Depending on election laws the paper audit trail may constitute a legal ballot and therefore provide a means by which a manual vote count can be conducted if a recount is necessary. The solution was first demonstrated (New York City, March 2001)[citation needed] and used (Sacramento, CA 2002) by AVANTE International Technology, Inc.[citation needed].

In non-document ballot voting systems both mechanical voting machines and DRE voting machines the voter does not have an option to review a tangible ballot to confirm the voting system accurately recorded his or her intent. In addition, an election official is unable to manually recount ballots in the event of a dispute. Because of this, critics claim there is an increased chance for electoral fraud or malfunction and security experts, such as Bruce Schneier, have demanded voter-verifiable paper audit trails.[2] Non-document ballot voting systems allow only a recount of the "stored votes". These "stored votes" might not represent the correct voter intent if the machine has been corrupted or suffered malfunction.

A fundamental hurdle in the implementation of paper audit trails is the performance and authority of the audit. Paper audit systems increase the cost of electronic voting systems, can be difficult to implement, often require specialized external hardware, and can be difficult to use. In the United States, 27 states require a paper audit trail by statute or regulation for all direct recording electronic voting machines used in public elections.[3] Another 18 states do not require them but use them either statewide or in local jurisdictions.[4] Five US states basically have no paper trail.[5]

In India, the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system was introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies as a pilot project in 2014 Indian general election.[6][7][8][9] VVPAT was implemented in Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore South, Chennai Central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram constituencies.[10][11][12][13][14][15] Voter-verifiable paper audit trail was first used in an election in India in September 2013 in Noksen (Assembly Constituency) in Nagaland.[16][17] VVPAT along with EVMs was used on a large-scale for the first time in India,[18] in 10 assembly seats out of 40 in 2013 Mizoram Legislative Assembly election.[19] VVPAT -fitted EVMs was used in entire Goa state in the 2017 assembly elections, which was the first time that an entire state in India saw the implementation of VVPAT.[20][21] voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system which enables electronic voting machines to record each vote cast by generating the EVM slip, was introduced in all 543 Lok sabha constituencies in 2019 Indian general election.[22][23]