All about EVM

Overview

Electronic Voting Machine

EVM stands for Electronic Voting Machine. These machines have been used in the elections since 1999 paving the way for electronic voting. EVMs are used in both the General and State elections of India. For first-time users, staring at an EVM can be daunting if you don’t know what to do. But for both first-time users and experienced users, knowing the working behind an EVM is important.

Advantages of EVMs

  • EVMs reduce the time in casting votes.
  • EVMs also reduce the time taken to count votes and declare results.
  • Claims were made earlier that the systems could be tampered with and the security could be breached, but this has not been proved.
  • EVMs save paper.
  • These machines are powered by batteries and do not rely on electricity which ensures uninterrupted voting.
  • EVMs can accommodate 64 candidates in a single constituency.
  • Votes can be stored for up to 10 years.
  • The program of EVMs cannot be changed and have a sealed security chip, therefore votes cannot be rigged without damaging the program. This prevents fraud.
  • Only one vote can be cast per person as the machine will register only the first button pressed.
  • EVMs restrict 5 votes for every minute.
  • NOTA was introduced recently at EVMs for voters to cast their vote even if they are not in favor of any of the candidates or parties. NOTA votes are counted and indicates that the elector is not happy with any of the candidates.

The Design of EVMs

An EVM is designed with two units: the control unit and the balloting unit. These units are joined together by a cable. The control unit of the EVM is kept with the presiding officer or the polling officer. The balloting unit is kept within the voting compartment for electors to cast their votes. This is done to ensure that the polling officer verifies your identity. With the EVM, instead of issuing a ballot paper, the polling officer will press the Ballot Button which enables the voter to cast their vote. A list of candidates names and/or symbols will be available on the machine with a blue button next to it. The voter can press the button next to the candidate’s name they wish to vote for.

The machine is also designed to overcome the rampant electricity problems in the country. To ensure uninterrupted voting, the machines run on 6V alkaline batteries that are manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited, Bangalore and Electronics Corporation of India Limited, Hyderabad. This enables the machines to run independently without power supply and also eliminate the possibility of electric shocks.

Security

In order to cast your vote, you must present your Voter ID and your name should appear in the Electoral Rolls. The officer in charge will then press a button that enables you to vote. You can then enter the polling booth and cast your vote. Once you have pressed a button to vote, your vote is recorded. Pressing the button again, how many times you want, will not record another vote. The machine will be locked till the officer in charge sends in the next voter and enables him to vote. This ensures one person equals one vote.

Once the last voter has cast their vote, the officer in charge will press a button labelled “Close”. The EVM will not accept any votes after this. The Balloting unit will be disconnected from the Controlling unit and both units will be kept separately.

After the polls are closed, the presiding officer will give each polling agent the accounts of the recorded votes. After counting votes, the account of voters registered will be tallied against the votes counted. Any discrepancies can be pointed out by the counting agents. After the counting, the Results button can be pressed to display the result.

There is also a safety measure provided to prevent the result button from being pressed before the counting of votes begins. The button cannot be pressed till the “Close” button is pressed. The button is also sealed and hidden inside. This can be accessed only at the counting center in the presence of an officer designated to this task. With these measures and features, the EVMs can be sealed and the votes can be counted on a later date even weeks or months after collecting the polls.

EVMs also have added security such as CCTV coverage, storage in strong rooms, transport under armed guards, and 24/7 armed police guard.

Limitations

  • If your preferred language is English, then you might face a little difficulty. You should be familiar with the candidates symbol you wish to vote for. The names of the candidates will be placed alphabetically in the respective language of the state. Therefore in Maharashtra, the names appear in Marathi, in Karnataka, the names appear in Kannada, and so on.
  • Each ballot unit can accommodate only 16 candidates. Therefore ballot units may be linked together to accommodate more. A total of 4 ballot units can be linked to accommodate 64 candidates from a single constituency. Any number above this will have to be added by the old manual voting method.
  • EVMs can record 3840 votes. Although, this number is not much of a limitation as the number of voters at a polling station is generally lower.

FAQs on Electronic Voting Machine

  1. What is an EVM? An EVM is an Electronic Voting Machine that is used to conduct electronic voting in elections. EVM’s have been in use since 1999 in India, ensuring tamper-proof voting.
  2. How do EVM’s differ from traditional voting methods? An EVM records a vote through electronic means. The machine records no personal information and ensures complete anonymity of the individual casting his/her ballot.
  3. How do EVM’s work? EVM’s are made up of two machines- the Control Unit and the Balloting Unit. A Presiding Officer operates the Control Unit. Once a vote is ready to be cast, the Presiding Officer will activate the Balloting Unit from the Control Unit and the voter will have to press a button to register his/her vote for a particular candidate on the Balloting Unit.
  4. How are EVM’s beneficial over traditional voting methods? EVM’s are beneficial in the following ways:
    1. EVM’s reduce the amount of time taken to cast votes.
    2. Being electronic, EVM’s are environment friendly as they do not use paper.
    3. Votes cast in EVM’s can be counted faster.
    4. EVM’s reduce chances of vote rigging thanks to their security features.
    5. EVM’s can store votes for up to 10 years in their systems.
  5. How do EVM’s rank over traditional paper ballot when it comes to preventing vote rigging?EVM’s are fitted with a microchip embedded deep in their systems that makes it difficult to rig the machine to register votes, as opposed to paper ballots, which can be forged.
  6. What is the maximum number of votes that can be cast in one EVM? A maximum of 3840 votes can be recorded in one EVM. For this purpose, not more than 2000 voters are assigned to an electoral booth during an election.
  7. Can EVM’s function in areas without electricity? Yes, EVM’s can be used in areas without electricity as well as they function on batteries. The EVM’s run on alkaline batteries to ensure the voting process goes on smoothly in case of a power failure during voting hours.
  8. How many candidates can an EVM cater to? An EVM can record votes for 64 different candidates at one point of time. 16 candidates can be accommodated on one Balloting Unit and in case the number of candidates in a particular constituency exceeds 16, a second Balloting Unit can be linked to the Control Unit. A maximum of 4 Balloting Units can be attached to a single Control Unit.
  9. When was the EVM first used in an Indian election? EVM’s were first used in elections in 1998 in a few constituencies in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.
  10. How do I record my vote at an EVM? When voting at an EVM, you will be presented with a set of buttons on the Balloting Unit. Each button will have a corresponding sticker denoting the political party and candidate assigned to that button. Once making your selection, simply press the blue button and wait for the signal from the election official confirming that your vote has been registered.
  11. Can I change my vote by selecting another candidate? No, it is not possible to re-cast your vote or change your vote. Once the machine registers a vote, it takes 5 minutes before the next vote can be cast. The machine does not allow erasing of a vote that has been cast and registered in the system.
  12. How are EVM’s protected against forgery or EVM’s being switched at polling booths?

    Every EVM that is being used in an election has an identity number that is recorded in the Election Commission’s database. The EVM’s ID number is checked against the database when it is being transported to and from the election booth as well as before counting the votes.

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