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ronic Voting Machines (EMalfunctioning of ElectVMs) |

ronic Voting Machines (EMalfunctioning of ElectVMs)

Context

∙ Several states had flagged the malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls according to documents obtained through the Right to Information.

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)

∙ Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is a simple electronic device used to record votes in place of ballot papers and boxes which were used earlier in conventional voting systems.

∙ The use of EVM started back in 1982 Kerala Assembly elections. Prior to this only ballot papers and ballot boxes were allowed.

How does the machine work?

∙ EVM has two parts, it consists of a ‘control unit’ and a ‘balloting unit’, connected by a 5-meter cable. 

∙ The control unit is with the Election Commission-appointed polling officer and it is the brain of the EVM.

∙ The balloting unit is in the voting compartment into which the voter enters to cast the vote in secret by pressing the button against the name and symbol of the candidate of her choice.

∙ The balloting unit is turned on only after the polling officer presses the ‘Ballot’ button on it. 

∙ The EVM runs on a 6 volt single alkaline battery fitted in the control unit, and can even be used in areas that have no electricity.

Production and design

∙ There are only two Indian PSUs that manufacture EVM machines;

∙ Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) and 

∙ Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL).

∙ The secret source code is only accessible to a few engineers. 

How long can EVM be used?

∙ EVMs have a life of 15 years.Chips that have the code need to be crushed in the presence of an officer of EC. 

∙ Even CU, BU display units are removed from the plastic holding and are crushed.

What is malfunctioning of EVMs?

∙ Malfunction or breakdown of EVMs doesn’t imply they are open to rigging or tampering. 

∙ Like any machine, EVMs too can malfunction. However, frequent instances of breakdown can lead to interruptions in voting, slowing down the process and potentially affecting voter turnout.

∙ To ensure the functionality of EVMs, First-level check (FLC) is done.

First-level check (FLC)

∙ FLC is the initial technical examination of the EVM’s Ballot Unit (BU) and Control Unit (CU) as well as the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). 

∙ This process is conducted by engineers in the six months leading up to the Lok Sabha polls at the district level under the supervision of a District Election Officer (DEO). 

∙ If any EVM part malfunctions during the FLC, it is returned to the manufacturers.

Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT)– A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.– It contains the name of the candidate (for whom vote has been cast) and symbol of the party/individual candidate.– The VVPAT offers some fundamental differences as a paper, rather than electronic recording medium when storing votes.
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