The Election Commission of India has long been mulling the use of totaliser machines during elections to mask booth-wise voting patterns. The Centre had expressed reservations over the use of such machines fearing they may lead to outflow of data from the electronic voting machines (EVMS) with the Supreme Court directing the EC to address the apprehensions.
Simply put, a totaliser is a mechanism which allows votes from 14 booths to be counted together so that voters are saved from pre-poll intimidation and post-poll harassment. Currently, the votes cast via EVMs are counted on individual booth basis.
The proposed mechanism for use in Indian elections was developed by the Bengaluru-based Bharat Electronics Limited and the Hyderabad-based Electronics Corporation of India Limited. The interface comnects to the main control units of a 14 EVM cluster and the consolidated vote count for candidates is obtained merely by pressing the result button on the totaliser. This result obtained is without disclosure of votes polled by candidates at particular voting booths/stations.
The Commission had suggested the use of totaliser first to the UPA government in 2008 and several subsequent demands including a PIL in the Supreme Court in 2014 sought mixing up of votes from different booths. Before the introduction of EVMs, ballot papers were often mixed to prevent intimidation of voters by disclosure of voting pattern.
In February last year, the present NDA government submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court opposing the use of totaliser in elections. However, the usage was backed by the EC and the Law Commission which was of the view that it would even help in voting stations listing a handful or single voters.