Wednesday, March 12, 2008

India: 60 Years: 60 Words: [16] Electronic Voting Machines

India: 60 Years: 60 Words: [16] Electronic Voting Machines

[India has competed 60 years of independence and to mark this, I am presenting this series of Articles, about the words, that are meaning a lot for the progress of the country. If you feel I missed some thing [For listing of words see the first article “India: 60 Years: 60 Words”] do inform me at I will try to include that at the end of series]

After the independence we have opted for the democratic setup of ruling and in this elections are bound to reappear at regular intervals. Traditionally ballot papers were used by the people to indicate their choice of candidate. This was a time consuming process especially when it comes to counting of the votes, I can recall still the days when after the general election, Doordarshan [official television channel of the country] was telecasting Hindi movies back to back for more than 48 hours during the process of counting of votes for these elections, so that people can know the results as and when they are available.

Considering the time consumed in counting of votes, election commission of India thought of electronic alternative for the ballot papers to speed up the counting process and with the help of Bharat Electronics Ltd., Bangalore and Electronic Corporation of India Ltd., Hyderabad [both are from public sector undertakings] succeeded in designing a voting machines called “EVM” in the year 1989-1990.

Electronic Voting Machine [EVM] is composed of two units namely controlling unit and balloting unit. The polling officer at polling booth activates the machine with the help of controlling unit, which is connected with balloting unit through a cable and voter press the button given in balloting unit for their choice of candidate. An EVM can record vote’s maximum to 3840 votes and in our country polling booths are designed in such manner that at most of the booths number of voters remains around 1500 hence for a single polling booth, single EVM prove sufficient.

EVM’s were used first time during the election of Legislative Assemblies held in November, 1998, in 16 Assembly Constituencies in the States of Madhya Pradesh (5), Rajasthan (5) and NCT of Delhi (6) on the experimental basis. The results have prompted the election commission to go for the use of EVM’s in all elections and traditional ballot papers just because
1. It saves time.
2. There is considerable ease for the counting of votes as by pressing a single button votes for every candidate are displayed.
3. A single EVM can accommodate votes for 16 candidates and to a single controlling unit four balloting units can be connected making the number of candidate equal to 64, which is much higher than normal maximum number of candidates for a constituency.
4. As the EVM can record only 5 Votes in a minute and the facility of “Close” button in the controlling unit are working against the booth capturing.
5. An EVM is priced higher than Rs. 5,000 but when we consider the printing, transportation of ballot papers and ballot boxes along with the requirement of more staff during counting and remuneration paid to them, EVM’s falls in the circle of affordability.
6. EVM can insure one man one vote, beside that there are no individual votes as there is no provision to know which voter has pressed button for which candidate.
7. EVM is computerized programmed machine which runs on the battery provided with hence there is no need of supply of external electric power and being sealed it is not possible to change the code and use for behavior in a specific way.
8. It is so easy to use that even large illiterate population of the country is able to use it.

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