As the name suggests, Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) don’t operate on the “stamp, fold and deposit,” rather on “press a button’ mode. An EVM is comprised of a Control Unit and a Balloting Unit. These two units are connected by a five-metre cable.
The polling officer or the presiding officer keeps and operates the control unit while the voters cast their vote on the balloting unit which is placed inside the enclosed polling area. Unlike in the paper ballot voting days when the polling official would issue a ballot paper, the officer in-charge now presses the ballot button on the control unit. This activates the balloting unit.
A balloting unit can accommodate up to 16 candidates. If the number of candidates exceeds this number, more such balloting units can be connected parallel to it to increase the limit to 32 or 48 or 64, the maximum for an EVM.
After the balloting unit is activated, the voter is led into the voting enclosure where he/she votes by pressing a blue button next to the name of the candidate and the symbol of the party. This simple pressing of a button records their vote in the EVM.
The machines have been made in a way that the polling process can be carried out in a quick manner while at the same time ensuring no mass voting is done by miscreants taking control of the units. For this, the EVMs only record a maximum five votes per minute and in case of a security emergency, the officer in-charge need only to press the close button rendering EVM unusable. An EVM can record a maximum of 3,840 votes and can save the votes in its memory, if required, for at least 10 years.
Also important to note is over the past few years, EVMs have moved from a means of conducting polls to becoming an independent issue in elections. With allegations of tampering flying from many quarters, many constituencies have in the past used the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine with the EVM as a second line of verification to ensure the vote cast goes to the candidate intended.