Electronic Voting Machines: All You Need To Know

Dear Aspirants,

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As you must be aware, Electronic Voting Machines have been in the news recently, due to the recent elections in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab. This means, there’s a high chance you will get a question related to EVMs in your UPSC CSE Exams.

Therefore, we are providing you a brief about Electronic Voting Machines, in the following article:

 

What are Electronic Voting Machines?

Electronic Voting Machines are used to enable people to vote electronically. It is also used to aid casting and counting of votes.

 

When were EVMs introduced?

EVMs were manufactured during 1989-90 by two public-sector undertaking; Bharat Electronics Ltd (Bangalore) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (Hyderabad) and were devised by the Election Commission of India. However, they were first used in the General Elections in November of 1990, in 16 Assembly Constituencies in the States of MP, Rajasthan and NCT of Delhi.

 

How do EVMs work?

EVM’s are powered by a 6-Volt Alkaline Battery. It consists of two units namely, the Control Unit and the Balloting Unit.

These two components are joined by a 5-meter cable. The Balloting Unit is the component on which the voters press the button and cast their vote. (This is placed inside the voting chamber). The Control Unit is the component supervised by the Presiding Officer or Polling Officer at the Poll booth. The Officer presses the ballot button which enables the voter to cast his vote.

Once the voter casts his vote, the machine automatically locks itself and disables the voter from casting another vote, thus ensuring the principle of “One man, one vote”.

 

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Can EVMs be accessed in areas where there is no electricity?

Absolutely. As mentioned earlier, EVMs run on a 6-Volt Alkaline Battery, enabling EVMs to be used throughout the country without interruptions.

 

How many votes can be recorded in total?

EVMs can record maximum of 3840 votes.

 

What’s the maximum number of candidates an EVM can cater to?

Each Balloting unit has a provision for 16 candidates. If the number of candidates exceed 16, a second balloting unit is linked parallel to the first one. The maximum number of candidates an EVM can cater to is 64 (That is 4 Balloting units).

If there are constituencies with more than 64 contesting candidates, they must adopt the conventional voting method wiz, ballot box and ballot paper.

 

Advantages
  • Saves a great deal of paper
  • Saves the cost involved in printing, transporting, storing and distributing the ballot papers.
  • The counting of votes is much quicker in electronic voting (2-3 hours), compared to counting of votes in conventional voting (30-40 hours).
  • No bogus voting. No voter can vote twice. And no invalid votes.
  • EVMs do not require electricity to function.
  • EVMs have a very long shelf life (approx. 15 years)
  • EVMs are very easy to install and use.
  • It is next to impossible to hack or tamper with EVMs.
  • Can be used for simultaneous elections for Parliament and State Legislative Assembly.

 

Disadvantages
  • It’s hard to tamper with EVMs but not impossible.
  • Software malfunction leading to inaccurate results.
  • Security problems
  • Vulnerability to hacking
  • No means for voters to verify their votes
  • The time gap between the voting and the counting of votes is a risk to possible tampering, as the ballots are physically stored after votes

 

Impact on Electoral Processes

India’s is the largest democracy in the world and has hundreds of millions of voters. Electoral frauds (multiple-voting, vote buying) have been the biggest challenge for the Election Commission of India. Among these, ‘booth-capturing’ (goons supporting a political party raiding polling stations and stuffing ballot boxes with votes) is the biggest.

Though the Election Commission of India, over the years, has taken measures to curb these malpractices, the traditional voting system still posed security problems.

However, with the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the 90s, booth-capturing was curbed. EVMs can register only 5 votes per minute, and booth-capturing would require more time than that. EVMs also made sure that the whole electoral process and results are fair, by improving efficiency of tallying the results thereby avoiding human errors, reducing manipulation or rigging and abuse of power in poll booths.

The introduction of EVMs also, successfully reduced the time and cost involved in the conduct of elections.

 

We hope the above information broadly helps you understand EVMs and their working.

Stay tuned for more.

 


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