Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs) were introduced for the first time on an experimental basis in 50 polling stations of Parur Assembly constituency in Kerala in 1982. With today’s election in Himachal Pradesh, the EVM’s have completed 30 years of successful operations in elections across India.
According to the General Election Reference Hand book, published by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, extensive use of EVMs was started in 1988 and were used at all polling stations in the country in the 14th General Election to the Lok Sabha in 2004. Election Commission of India (ECI) provided about 10.75 lakh EVMs 6,87,402 polling booths replacing traditional system of ballot paper and ballot boxes for 39 Crore voters out of total 67 crore total electorates.
The EVM’s reduced the quantity of paper used, thus saving large number of trees, making the process eco-friendly and reduced the cost of printing to almost nill as only one sheet of ballot paper is required for each polling stations. According to a study about 7700 Metric Tone and 8800 MT paper was used for printing the ballot paper in General Elections in 1999 and 1996 respectively.
The Indian EVMs are simple machines, which can be operated easily by both the polling personnel and the voters. Moreover they are sturdy enough to withstand rough handling and climatic conditions. The machines eliminates the possibility of invalid and doubtful votes, which are the root cause of most of the controversies and election petitions. The EVMs also makes the process of counting of vote much faster than the conventional system.
Being a stand alone machine without any connectivity, nobody can interfere with its program and manipulate the results, thus making them temper proof. The machines can run on batteries thus can be easily operated in areas with erratic electricity supply. Blind persons can use EVMs as the machines are equipped with ‘Braille’ signage on the ballot units indicating the serial number of the candidate.
An EVM can record maximum of 3840 votes which, exceeds the number of voters, usually less than 1400 assigned to a polling station. EVMs are manufactured for ECI by two central government undertakings that is Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd.
According to Chief Electoral Officer Narinder Chauhan as many as 9191 EVMs were deployed in 7253 polling stations across Himachal Pradesh with about 4,608,359 electorates using them in today’s state assembly elections. In this election about 1,09,115 newly registered voters of the state will get an opportunity to cast their vote using the EVM’s.