Understanding EVMs and VVPAT: The Mechanics Behind Your Vote

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GG News Bureau
New Delhi, 19th April. 
As the first phase of Lok Sabha elections unfolds amidst ongoing legal deliberations in the Supreme Court regarding Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), a closer look at the functioning of these systems sheds light on the intricacies of the electoral process.

With petitioners advocating for 100% cross-verification of votes through the VVPAT system, and suggestions to revert to the traditional ballot voting system emerging, the debate surrounding the trustworthiness and efficacy of EVMs continues to captivate public attention.

Here’s a breakdown of how EVMs operate and the role of the VVPAT system in ensuring transparency and accountability in the voting process:

EVM Components and Functionality:

  • An EVM comprises two units: the control unit and the balloting unit, connected by a cable.
  • The control unit, under the supervision of the presiding officer, manages the voting process.
  • The balloting unit, placed in the voting compartment, displays candidate names and symbols for voters to select.
  • Voters verify their identity and cast their votes by pressing the button next to their preferred candidate’s name on the balloting unit.

Voting Process:

  • Upon activation by the polling officer, the control unit indicates readiness with a red light labeled ‘busy’.
  • A green light on the balloting unit signals the voter to proceed, and after making their selection, a beep confirms the completion of voting.
  • The control unit displays the total votes recorded and can be sealed by the polling officer once voting concludes.

Introduction of VVPAT:

  • The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) supplements EVMs by providing a paper slip that confirms the accuracy of the vote cast.
  • After selecting a candidate on the EVM, the VVPAT generates a paper slip visible to the voter for seven seconds before depositing it into a secure dropbox.
  • Currently, VVPAT slips from five machines are cross-checked with EVMs in each Assembly segment, ensuring an additional layer of verification.

Challenges and Suggestions:

  • Petitioners advocate for 100% cross-verification of VVPAT slips with votes recorded on EVMs, alongside extending the display time of the paper slip for voter scrutiny.
  • The Election Commission opposes issuing paper slips to voters, citing concerns about voter secrecy and potential misuse.

Advantages of EVM System:

  • The Election Commission asserts the foolproof nature of EVMs, citing their efficiency, tamper-proof design, and user-friendly interface.
  • EVMs are lightweight, robust, and capable of self-diagnosis, facilitating smooth operation in diverse polling environments.
  • First Level Checking (FLC) ensures the functionality and integrity of EVMs and VVPATs prior to every election, safeguarding against malfunctions and tampering.

As the legal and public discourse on EVMs unfolds, a nuanced understanding of their mechanics and safeguards underscores the imperative of ensuring the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.

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