Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is an electronic device for recording votes. It was first used in 1982 in the by-election to Parur Assembly Constituency of Kerala for a limited number of polling stations (50 polling stations). It is a simple machine that can be operated easily by both the polling personnel and the voters. It is strong enough to withstand rough handling and variable climatic conditions. Being a stand alone machine without any network connectivity, nobody can interfere with its programming and manipulate the result. Keeping in mind the erratic power supply position in many places in the country, the machines have been made to run on batteries. These machines are manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited.

Now, a new system known as Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is attached with the Electronic Voting Machines that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. When a vote is cast, a slip is printed containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate and remains exposed through a transparent window for 7 seconds. Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls in the sealed drop box of the VVPAT.

How does a EVM work ?

An Electronic Voting Machine consists of two Units – a Control Unit and a Balloting Unit – joined by a five-meter cable. The Control Unit is placed with the Presiding Officer or a Polling Officer and the Balloting Unit is placed inside the voting compartment. Instead of issuing a ballot paper, the Polling Officer in-charge of the Control Unit will release a ballot by pressing the Ballot Button on the Control Unit. This will enable the voter to cast his vote by pressing the blue button on the Balloting Unit against the candidate and symbol of his choice.

Why EVM is better than the traditional ballot paper/ballot box system?

  1. It has the power to eliminate the possibility of invalid and doubtful votes.
  2. It helps counting of votes much faster.
  3. It greatly reduces the quantity of paper (Eco-friendly)
  4. It reduces printing cost.

How to Vote?

The entire process is very easy to understand: Like in earlier system, your name is called and you are asked to sign or put your thumb impression in a register. After your identification is done by Election Officer, an ink mark is put on your finger, same as earlier. Then the Election Officer gives you a slip that bears the Voter register number where you signed or put your thumb impression. You hand over this slip to the presiding officer who confirms the serial number and permits you to vote by pressing the button of the Control Unit of EVM.

You are not given any ballot thereafter, and are sent to the EV Machine placed behind a card board in a corner. The machine is placed in such a way that your polled vote will be a secret. On the Balloting Unit of EVM, you press the blue button placed in front of your favourite candidate and release. As soon as the button is pressed, the red LED indicator lights up and a whistle sound comes from the machine. This signifies that your vote has been casted rightly. Now you can come out. In case of red LED not working, press the Blue button firmly again. If finding it difficult, consult the Presiding Officer. Your vote is complete safe and secret and there is no room for error as well. You can rest assured that your vote is not going to be invalid in any case.

The Voting Machine is attached to the 'Control Unit'. When the user presses the button, his vote is registered in the control unit and the number of votes for the respective candidates is calculated automatically.

After the hour fixed for the close of the poll and the last voter has recorded his vote, the EVM is closed so that no further recording of votes in the machine is possible. At the counting place, only the control unit is required for ascertaining the result of poll at the polling station at which the EVM was used. The balloting unit is not required.

1. What happens if a button is pressed twice?

When a button is pressed, the red light situated near it glows and a beep sound occurs. Then the system is rendered disabled. Even if you press the button again, it wont be registered. It is only when the Presiding officer presses the button on the Controlling unit upon arrival of the next voter, that the machine gets reactivated. What happens when more than one button is pressed simultaneously? Although it seldom happens, in this case the red light will not glow and no beep will occur. This ensures that the voting has not been done.

2. How is voting confirmed?

When the button is pressed, the red light glows followed by a beep.This confirms voting.

3. Is the voting confidential?

It is as confidential as the previous system. As in the previous system the voting is done in separate enclosures. Even the Presiding Officer is not able to trace out the vote polled.

4. What happens when there is power failure?

Since the EVM is battery operated there will not be any disruption due to power failure. EVMs run on an ordinary 7.5 volt alkaline Power pack (manufactured using 5 AA size cells of 1.5 volt each) supplied by Bharat Electronics Ltd., Bangalore and Electronic Corporation of India Ltd., Hyderabad. Therefore, even in areas with no electricity connections, EVMs can be used.

5. Is the EVM shock proof?

As the machine is made of plastic and does not uses electricity for operation, there is absolutely no chance of getting a shock.

6. What is the maximum number of candidates, which EVMs can cater to?

EVMs can cater to a maximum of 64 candidates (including NOTA). There is provision for 16 candidates in one Balloting Unit. If the total number of candidates exceeds 16, a second Balloting Unit can be linked in series to the first Balloting Unit. Similarly, if the total number of candidates exceeds 32, a third Balloting Unit can be attached and if the total number of candidates exceeds 48, a fourth Balloting Unit can be attached to cater to a maximum of 64 candidates (Including NOTA). In EVMs manufactured after 2013(Upgraded Post-2006 version) 24 Balloting units can be attached to one control unit catering to a maximum of 384 candidates (including NOTA).

7. How long the Control Unit stores the result in its memory?

The Control Unit can store the result in its memory for 10 years and even more.

8. What will happen if the EVM in a particular polling station goes out of order?

On poll day Zonal/Area/Sector Magistrates keep on patrolling with reserved EVMs. In case, EVM of a particular polling station goes out of order then the same is replaced with a new one. The votes recorded until the stage when the EVM went out of order remains safe in the memory of the Control Unit and it is sufficient to proceed with the polling after replacing the EVM with new EVM and there is no need to start the poll from the beginning. On counting day, both EVMs are counted to give the result of that polling station.

9. Can booth – capturing/mass rigging be prevented by the use of EVMs?

Booth capturing/mass rigging by miscreants to intimidating the polling personnel and stamping the Ballot papers on the symbol and escaping in a matter of minutes, this can be prevented by the use of EVMs. The EVMs are programmed in such a way that the EVM can record only five votes in a minute.

10. Where are EVMs stored after preparation of EVMs by Returning Officer?

The EVMs prepared in aforesaid manner are stored in a strong room in the presence of the candidates/their agents and the Commission’s Observer. The candidates/their agents are allowed to put their seals on the locks of the strong room. A log book is maintained and foolproof security arrangements are made.

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