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Electronic Voting Machine

  • 23 Feb 2024
  • 6 min read

Source: IE

Why in News?

In recent years, there has been growing discussion and analysis surrounding the integrity and dependability of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used during elections in India.

What is an Electronic Voting Machine?

  • About: EVM is a device used to record votes electronically. They were first used in the Paravur Assembly Constituency of Kerala in the year 1982.
    • Since 1998, the Election Commission has increasingly used EMVs instead of ballot boxes.
    • In 2003, all state elections and by-elections were held using EVMs.
      • Encouraged by this, in 2004, the Commission took a historic decision to use only EVMs for the Lok Sabha elections.
  • Development: It has been devised and designed by the Technical Experts Committee (TEC) of the Election Commission in collaboration with two Public Sector undertakings: Bharat Electronics Ltd, Bangalore (under Ministry of Defence ) and Electronic Corporation of India Ltd, Hyderabad (under Department of Atomic Energy).
  • Functionality: It has two parts: a Control Unit and a Balloting Unit connected by a cable.
    • The Control Unit stays with the polling officer, while the Balloting Unit is in the voting booth.
    • The voter has to simply press the blue button on the Ballot Unit against the candidate and symbol of his choice and the vote is recorded.
  • Key Features:
    • An EVM being used by ECI can record a maximum of 2,000 votes.
    • They do not require electricity. They run on an ordinary battery assembled by
    • Bharat Electronics Limited/Electronics Corporation of India Limited.
    • The microchip used in EVMs is a one-time programmable/masked chip, which can neither be read nor overwritten.
      • Furthermore, the EVMs are stand-alone machines and there is no operating system used in these machines.
  • Benefits:
    • Accuracy: EVMs eliminate the occurrence of 'Invalid Votes' seen frequently with paper ballots, ensuring a more accurate reflection of voter choice and reducing complaints and legal disputes.
    • Efficiency: EVMs streamline the voting process, making it faster and more efficient. They eliminate the need for manual counting, reducing the time required to declare election results.
    • Transparency: EVMs enhance transparency in the electoral process by providing a clear and verifiable record of votes cast. With features like VVPAT, voters can verify that their votes are recorded accurately.
    • Cost-effectiveness: EVMs offer cost savings in terms of paper, printing, transportation, and storage, as they eliminate the need for millions of printed ballot papers for each election cycle.
  • Concerns:
    • Lack of Transparency: Some critics argue that the inner workings of EVMs are not sufficiently transparent, leading to doubts about the accuracy and fairness of the voting process.
    • Reliability: Questions have been raised about the reliability of EVMs, including the possibility of technical malfunctions or errors that could affect the outcome of an election.
    • Trust Issues: Despite security measures, there is still a lack of trust among some political parties and voters regarding the reliability and authenticity of EVMs, leading to calls for additional safeguards or alternative voting methods.

What is VVPAT?

  • About: Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent system attached with the EVM that allow the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.
    • It was introduced in the bye-election of the Noksen Assembly Constituency of Nagaland in 2013.
    • In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, VVPATs were used in all the constituencies.
  • Functionality: When a vote is cast, a slip is printed containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate and remains exposed through a transparent window for 7 seconds.
    • Thereafter, the printed slip automatically gets cut and falls in the sealed drop box of the VVPAT.
    • The machines can be accessed by polling officers only.
  • Related Supreme Court Ruling: In a 2013 Subramanian Swamy V/s ECI case, the Supreme Court emphasised the necessity of implementing VVPAT in elections conducted through EVMs.
    • Presently, the M3 Model of ECI-EVM and VVPAT are used.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)


Q. Consider the following statements: (2017)

  1. The Election Commission of India is a five-member body.
  2. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs decides the election schedule for the conduct of both general elections and bye-elections.
  3. Election Commission resolves the disputes relating to splits/mergers of recognised political parties.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only 
(b) 2 only 
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 3 only

Ans: (d)

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