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How do we vote in India with Electronic Voting machine

April 5th, 2009

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.

evm1

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.

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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.

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The various parts of balloting unit is shown below.

evm_ballot

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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.

evm_control

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.)

evm_control_candidate_set

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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

evm_control_result

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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.

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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.

Living in India

  1. April 15th, 2009 at 09:49 | #1

    Thanks for those details, though I wonder when I’ll ever get to see an EVM, and use it. Leading a ‘nomadic’ way of life in the Indian defence, I am yet to participate in any single election. :(

  2. April 21st, 2009 at 18:41 | #2

    Hi, Thanks for sharing this info. I am just curious how/when/where they map the ballot/candidate list with the buttons on the ballot unit. I understand that when you get the ballot unit, it will have the ballot sheet (with the names/symbols of all candidates) inserted.

  3. vu2swx
    April 21st, 2009 at 18:50 | #3

    @Anil

    http://brainstorms.in/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/033020092993-thumb1.jpg
    See this pic. Next to battery , you can see a red button. The number of candidate is set with it. The candidates are represented as numbers inside the machine. The ballot sheet is just a mapping from numbers to names/symbol. It exists only in paper( official files). For the machine, a candidate is just a number. The number of candidates is set in the presence of election observers prior to actual polling and the compartment is sealed.

  4. Mani
    October 30th, 2009 at 20:01 | #4

    Sunil,
    Do you think that the EVM is fool proof?
    De VU2ITI

  5. ?????????
    October 30th, 2009 at 20:41 | #5

    @mani
    I am sceptical about the software . But the procedure of election commission is nearly foolproof. It is very difficult to manipulate the machines on a large scale.

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