India is going to polls during the months of April and May 2009. Elections in India employ Electronic Voting machine(EVM). These machines are manufactured by two companies owned by the defense department. I had the opportunity to get hands on training in operating the machine as a part of pre election training for polling officials.( I am going to work as a presiding officer in a polling booth in the first phase of elections.)
The electronic voting machines that we use, have two parts :- a control unit and a balloting unit. They are interconnected by a flat ribbon cable of 5m length.
The Indian Electronic Voting machine
The balloting unit enables the voters to cast their votes. Each balloting unit can accommodate 16 candidates. 4 such units can be cascaded and connected to a single control unit.
Balloting unit Control Unit
The connecting cable is permanently attached to the balloting unit. It is connected to the control unit via a connector on the rear. Also, the main on off switch is on the rear side of control unit.
The various parts of balloting unit is shown below.
A voter can vote when the ready lamp glows. He can press the candidate button shown against his candidate. As soon as the button press is received the unit produces a long beep sound and the candidate lamp glows.
The control unit is organized as shown below.
The control unit has several functions. These are performed at different points of election process. It is powered by a 6V rugged battery. The battery and candidate set switch are sealed before delivery to the polling station. The polling officials are not supposed to open this section. The candidate set button can be used to set the number of candidates on the balloting unit. Also the same control unit can be used for 2 simultaneous elections ( ie Parliament elections and state elections.)
The result section is used for displaying the results, closing the poll and resetting the machine. This section is sealed at the start of the election in the presence of polling agents
At the end of the polling the close bottom is pressed and the machine is sealed again. The ballot section on the bottom of the control unit is used along with the balloting unit. As soon as a voter is identified, the officer in charge of the control unit presses the ballot button. The busy lamp on the top of the control unit glows along with the ready lamp on the balloting unit. When a voter casts his vote, the busy light goes off.
The total button can be used to find out the number of votes cast at any time.
The polls start at 7 am in the morning and end at 5pm. Before the start of actual poll, a mock poll will be conducted. This is to ensure that EVM is not having any preset votes and to make sure that the machine works as advertised. The result section will be sealed and signatures of polling agents and presiding officer will be affixed on the seal.at this time At the end of the polls the close button is pressed. The machine is sealed again and put into a box and returned to a counting center.
Update April 17 : I had my election duty at Keezhpaloor , near Meenagal in Aryanadu. The polling was smooth and about 65% of the electorate cast votes in my booth.