Ahead of almost every election and post every result, there are charges levelled by political parties questioning the authenticity of the Electronic Voting Machines used by the Election Commission of India. With 2019 being the year when the much-awaited Lok Sabha elections will be held in the country, the poll agency is trying to bust myths around the allegations with a view to convince the electorate that the process is a free and fair one.
In a post titled Myth vs Reality, the Election Commission rubbished the allegations that EVMs are manufactured by the private entities. Stating that there is no chance of the involvement of vested interest, the ECI said: "The ECI-EVMs are manufactured in two PSUs namely ECIL (Under Department of Atomic Energy) and BEL (Under Ministry of Defence), unlike machines used in other countries, which are manufactured entirely by private entities. Hence, there is no chance of involvement of vested interest of private players or technology vendors in decision making or production of the ECI-EVMs."
On its Facebook page, the ECI also turned down requests of bringing back the ballot paper for voting stating three reasons. "Bringing back ballot paper is not a good idea because: a) EVM ended the days of booth capturing, delays and errors in counting ballot papers. b) Counting now can be done in 3 to 6 hours, whereas, earlier it was 24 -48 hours. c) Earlier, during the time of ballot paper, large number of votes in each assembly constituency ended up being invalid. This was higher than the winning margin in several elections.
With the usage of EVMs, no vote gets invalidated," the ECI said.
The ECI in the past has also vouched for the credibility of the EVMs stating that the software in the ECI-EVM chip is one time programmable (OTP) and burnt into the chip at the time of manufacture. It has time and again stated that nothing can be written on the chip after manufacture. Thus the ECI-EVMs are fundamentally different from the voting machines and processes adopted in various foreign countries.
Before every election, a first level checking (FLC) is done for every EVM to be used in the election by the engineers of the manufacturers in the presence of political parties’ representatives. Any malfunctioning EVM is kept separately and is not used in the election.
Manufacturers certify at the time of FLC that all components in the EVM are original. After this, the plastic cabinet of Control Unit of the EVM is sealed using a “Pink Paper Seal”, which is signed by representatives of political parties and stored in strong rooms. After this stage, the plastic cabinet of control unit of the EVMs cannot be opened. There is no access to any component of inside of EVMs. Additionally, at the time of FLC, at least 1000 votes are cast by the representatives of political parties on 5 per cent of EVMs randomly selected by them. A printout of the results of this mock poll as well as a sequential print out of every vote polled during the mock poll at the time of First Level Checking of EVMs are taken out for at least 5 per cent of EVMs and shown to the representatives of political parties.