EVM is stand-alone and one-time programmable machine.
EVM was preferred to ballot paper to make election more credible.
EVM voting is auditable, accurate and secure.
Since 2000 the country has witnessed 107 Assembly elections and three Lok Sabha polls (2004, 2009, and 2014) where EVMs were used to cast and record votes in all the constituencies and at all the poll booths.
The parliamentary polls of 2004 were the first general elections to be fully conducted through electronic voting machines (EVMs). The incumbent government lost power.
Before that the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and West Bengal in 2001 were completely conducted using EVMs.
ELECTION IN INDIA BEFORE EVM
During the first two Lok Sabha elections in 1952 and 1957, and simultaneous Assembly polls, each candidate was allotted a separate ballot box. The poll symbol of the candidate or his party was pasted on the respective ballot boxes.
There was no ballot paper yet with names of the candidates and respective poll symbols printed on it. The voters were required to drop a pre-printed ballot paper in the box of the candidate of their choice.
The literacy in India was less than 30 per cent and such a system led to fears of manipulation, tampering and booth capturing. The separate ballot box system was replaced with a single ballot box one and now the voters were given a ballot paper with names and symbols of the candidates printed on them.
WHY BALLOT PAPER WAS GIVEN UP
The printed ballot paper system was first used in the mid-term polls in Kerala and Odisha. The same system continued till 1999 with considerable success.
But, the use of ballot papers was time consuming, prone to malpractices like booth-capturing and ballot-box stuffing. Such complaints were too many and in some regions of West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Prades – three of the largest states in terms of population – booth capturing and violence during elections were the norm rather than exception.
With ballot papers, large number of votes was declared invalid due to wrong or incorrect marking. The counting of votes took days. Election disputes took unusually long time to settle causing delay in announcement of poll results.
With technology evolving, the use of huge volume of paper also presented ecological challenge in the largest democracy of the world.
HOW EVM IMPROVED ELECTION IN INDIA
The Election Commission has presented a status paper on the EVM . The poll panel has listed out several reasons favouring use of EVM for conducting polls in the country.
- The manner of voting by EVMs is much more simpler and voter-friendly as the voter is merely to press the button on the ballot unit for casting his votes in favour of the candidate of his choice.
- Under the EVM system, there is no invalid vote, whereas in the ballot paper system large number of ballot papers was invalidated. The Election Commission says that in some cases, the number of such invalid ballot papers was even more than the winning margin of the elected candidate.
- The EVM is auditable, transparent, accurate, secure and helps reduce human error. The machine is electronically protected to prevent any tampering/manipulation.
- The EVMs, the Election Commission says, are non-tamperable as it is a “stand-alone non-networked, one time- programmable (OTP) machine, which is neither computer controlled, nor connected to the internet or any network; and hence, cannot be ‘Hacked’.”
- The EVM gives faster results in hours, which is particularly relevant in large countries like India having Constituencies of several hundred thousand voters, where counting used to take days and weeks earlier.
- The voting on EVM saves time, energy and money. This system also minimises use of paper and hence, it is environment-friendly.
- Earlier crores of ballot papers were printed requiring hundreds of tonnes of paper for printing the same and the printing of ballot papers had to be undertaken in large number of Government Presses for very long periods, involving hundreds of election officials in each constituency.
- The Election Commission says that the innovative use of advancements in modern electronics for voting in the country provides for a fulsome endorsement of the creativity, inventiveness and pioneering acumen of the Indian society at large and serves to enhance the image and prestige of the country in the international arena.
The Election Commission has always resisted the political attempt to go back to the use of ballot papers in elections as it considers the system of “ballot papers was a traditional, anachronistic and archaic voting method”.
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