All about EVM

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 election 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.

*Disclaimer

News about EVM

  • Missing EVM recovered at a village bus stand in Mahoba district, UP

    An electronic voting machine (EVM) which was used at a voting booth in Mahoba district’s Nogaon Phadna village, Uttar Pradesh went missing on Monday following the closing of the polls in the fourth phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

    However, it has been recovered by the officials on Tuesday from the village bus stand’s waiting room with the EVM’s seal intact. Officials have reported that the machine went missing while it was being transported to the constituency’s strong room in Mahoba town.

    The details about the misplacement of the machine, its recovery, and its present condition have not been shared by the Election Commission. At present, the EC is scrutinising all EVMs, which is a regular norm of the election process.

    6 May 2019

  • App developed for EVM officials of Kottayam

    An app has been developed for the EVM officials of Kottayam which will also receive EVM complaints from the voters. The app has different options via which you can register your complaint. The polling day in Kottayam district is 23rd of April. If the EVM is not working as it should, the polling officer can lodge a complaint through this app. The app has been developed by the students of Amal Jyothi Engineering college. Some of the type of complaints that can be registered by the officers on the app include delaying in food to the polling booth, if any materials or stationery has not been delivered to the booth on time or if there is shortage of any material.

    The response time of the app is around 30 minutes. If there is any delay in the response, then the matter reaches the district collector. There are plans to use the app in other locations as well as it will help rectify the issues that can occur at the polling booth.

    25 April 2019

  • Mobile apps being used in elections for various purposes

    In a bid to improve voting percentage, raising awareness on EVMs and VVPATs, and friendly voting, mobile apps are being used extensively in elections. In addition to them, special apps are being used to identify polling centres, help specially abled persons to reach polling stations, check one’s name in the voters’ list as well get permission for election campaigning.

    With the Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, here are certain special apps that are being used for serving various purposes. One such app is e-Suvidha, which is being introduced by the Election Commission of India (ECI). The app is facilitating political parties and candidates to get permissions from the respective returning officers for conducting rallies, publicity vehicles, the opening of election offices, use of loudspeakers, helicopters and helipad permissions.

    Another app called C-Vigil is coming handy in enabling code enforcement. Introduced for the effective implementation of model code of conduct during the election period, the app allows citizens to report incidents of violation of MCC by uploading pictures and videos. The app called VAADA has been specially designed by GHMC for improving the participation of differently abled persons in the voting process. VAADA app is being used to help differently-abled voters reach the polling centres and return to their homes without much hassle. GHMC which has designed the VAADA app has also come up with the MyGHMC app. The app helps an individual to find if his/her name is listed in the voters’ list. The app also helps the voter know the location of his/her polling booth

    2 April 2019

  • RTI reveals 9 countries in total have demanded the EVMs used by EC

    The Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that 9 countries in total have demanded for the EVMs used by EC over the years. The countries that have asked for the EVMs to be delivered to them include Nepal in 2012, Nigeria in 2014, Indonesia in 2016 and Russia, Bhutan, Botswana and Papua New Guinea while Afghanistan and Namibia in 2017. Despite the controversy surrounding the use of EVMs in elections, the demand seems to only have risen since its usage in the elections began in 2009.

    Despite the demand from multiple countries for EVMs, the election commission has only given it to Namibia in 2012 and 2015 and Bhutan in 2017. The demands for EVMs from rest of the countries have not been met either because of rejection by the EC or to fulfil the requirements during the elections in India. The RTI also provided the information stating that no country has yet bought the EVMs with VVPATs from India.       

    21 September 2018

  • EVMs used in DU elections are different from the ones used by EC

    With controversy surrounding the DU election results, the Election Commission has said that the EVMs used in the elections is completely different from the ones that is used by them. The EC said that the EVMs used in the DU elections have been bought from a private manufacturer back in 2006 after the EC allowed them to do so but only with strict restrictions. The strict restrictions laid down by the EC for the EVMs were that they should be distinct, different in color, design, model and the sealing procedure. In addition to this, the connector unit of the EVMs should not able to connect to any other EVMs. The DU governing body had ordered 300 EVMs.     

    The EVMs used by the DU allows to the voters to vote for multiple candidates whereas the EVMs used by the EC allows the voters to only vote for one candidate at a time. The EC has been refraining from commenting on the alleged malfunction of the EVMs. It also cleared it up that any EVMs discarded by it are being used currently in any other elections.

    19 September 2018

  • SC awaits EC response on PIL filed for restricted access to EVMs and VVPATs

    The Supreme Court is awaiting the election commission’s response to a PIL filed asking for restricting access to Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) to engineers from BEL and ECL who have security clearance. In the PIL, the petitioner mentioned that there had been some sort of tampering with the EVMs and VVPATs by unidentified personnel. In the PIL, the petitioner, Ashish Goyal also asked for a committee to be setup which would inquire if previously private individuals were allowed to handle EVMs and VVPATs or not and to provide the list of engineers who have access to the EVMs and VVPATs. Senior Congress leader, Kapil Sibal is contesting the case on the petitioner's behalf in the supreme court.       

    6 September 2018

  • ECI receives delegates from 12 permanent representatives working in the UN

    A group of permanent representatives from the UN belonging to Equatorial Guinea, Comoros, Niger, St. Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, Malta, Marshall Islands, Dominica, St. Lucia, Eswatini, Zambia and Kiribati visited the office of Election Commission of India from 22-28 August. The visit has been sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. A meeting was held between Ashok Lavasa and the group in which the electoral system of India was discussed extensively.

    In addition to this, the International Cooperation Program that has been recently started by the ECI was also discussed. Umesh Sinha, the deputy election commissioner gave a speech about the structure and organisation of the election commission and how it works. The delegate was also shown a demo of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that are supposed to be used in the upcoming general elections.      

    29 August 2018

  • EC planning on using more than 2 Lakh EVMs for the upcoming elections in Rajasthan

    The Election Commission is planning on using more than 2 Lakh Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the upcoming elections in Rajasthan. As per the Chief Election Officer, Ashwini Bhagwat, the machines that will be used for polling in the elections have been verified under thoroughly under the watchful eyes of election commission officials and representatives of all political parties. The legislative assembly elections in the state of Rajasthan will be held at the end of next year with the term of the current government ending on January 20.

    The EVMs that will be used for polling during the elections have been through various levels of verification. In the first level of verification, the EVMs were tested by the officials of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) in the presence of representatives of all the major political parties. As per data provided by the Election Commission, a total of 76,700 third generation EVMs, 64,000 control units and 65,700 VVPAT have already been distributed by the EC across the state with more to follow. The EVMs, control units and VVPATs have been kept in warehouses with a team of 10 police officers guarding it. Only people with official pass are allowed to enter the warehouse with CCTV cameras also being installed.   

    20 July 2018

  • EC planning on using more than 2 Lakh EVMs for the upcoming elections in Rajasthan

    The Election Commission is planning on using more than 2 Lakh Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the upcoming elections in Rajasthan. As per the Chief Election Officer, Ashwini Bhagwat, the machines that will be used for polling in the elections have been verified under thoroughly under the watchful eyes of election commission officials and representatives of all political parties. The legislative assembly elections in the state of Rajasthan will be held at the end of next year with the term of the current government ending on January 20.

    The EVMs that will be used for polling during the elections have been through various levels of verification. In the first level of verification, the EVMs were tested by the officials of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) in the presence of representatives of all the major political parties. As per data provided by the Election Commission, a total of 76,700 third generation EVMs, 64,000 control units and 65,700 VVPAT have already been distributed by the EC across the state with more to follow. The EVMs, control units and VVPATs have been kept in warehouses with a team of 10 police officers guarding it. Only people with official pass are allowed to enter the warehouse with CCTV cameras also being installed.   

    20 July 2018

  • Glitch reported in the working of EVMs in recent by-elections in UP

    The Election Commission has submitted its report on the glitch reported in the working of EVMs in three constituencies during the recent by-elections that were held in Uttar Pradesh. The constituencies in which the malfunctioning of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) was reported are Kairana and Bhandara-Gondiya.

    As per the report prepared by the Election Commission after thorough examination of the EVM machines, the contrast sensor and the length sensor in the machine had failed. The probable reason for the glitch in the EVM machines could be due to overexposure to light. The Election Commission has seemed to take this issue very seriously and it has even contacted design experts to prevent malfunctioning of EVMs in the future.

    12 June 2018

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