This Is How An EVM Works
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We are in the midst of general elections and if you have already voted or are about to vote, you must have had a fair idea about the electronic voting machines or EVMs. The EVMs were introduced by the Election Commission of India, in alliance with Bharat Electronics (Bangalore) and Electronics Corporation of India (Hyderabad), for casting and counting votes.

Gizmodo India knows that you must be feeling inquisitive about how this little machine operates and consequently plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of the world’s largest democracy. You need not wonder any more – here is the detailed information about the EVMs and how they work.

These machines were first used on an experimental basis during the 1998 general elections. A total of 16 assembly constituencies used the EVMs – there were 5 each in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and 6 in the NCT of Delhi. An EVM includes a control unit and a balloting unit, connected by a 5m cable. The presiding officer of the booth, who is generally a central government employee trained to operate these machines, is in charge of the control unit while the balloting unit is used by the voters to cast their votes.

An EVM runs on a 6 volt alkaline battery. So it is possible to use them in rural booths with no electricity connections. Also, it is easier for the illiterate people to press a button rather than putting the stamp mark on or near the symbol of the chosen candidate. A maximum of 3,840 votes can be cast through one EVM. But that is not an issue as the number of voters in a polling station will not exceed 1500.

If an EVM goes out of order, a spare EVM can be provided to the booth by the designated officer. However, the votes already cast by the voters are safely stored in the control unit kept with the presiding officer, thus avoiding the near-impossible task of asking the voters to vote again.

One EVM can cater to 16 candidates at a time and 4 such EVMs can be placed next to each other in one polling station to cater to a maximum of 64 candidates for one constituency. In case more than 64 candidates are contesting the polls from a single constituency, traditional paper ballots and ballot boxes will have to be pressed into service.

EVMs can also prevent malpractices like booth capturing to a great extent. As these machines can register only 5 votes per minute, miscreants can only cast a limited number of votes before they get caught. This is an advantage over the traditional ballot boxes where the frauds can put in a huge number of illegally marked ballot papers.

With the EVMs in place, the principle of ‘one man, one vote’ is easily taken care of as the machine gets locked after one has cast his/her vote, making it impossible for the same person to vote again, as new ballot numbers is needed once a vote is cast.

To avoid any malpractice, the presiding officer presses the ‘close’ button after the last vote. The EVMs are designed in such a way that the machines won’t accept any vote after being detached from the control unit.

These EVMs are easy to operate and quite economical as they help save a lot of money we would otherwise require for paper, printing, transportation, storage and distribution. They have also cut down on the time required for counting votes. It now takes 2-3 hours to complete the counting, compared to 30-40 hours taken during the traditional procedure.