The two public sector undertakings tasked with manufacturing the latest M3 type electronic voting machines to be used in next year’s Lok Sabha elections have delivered the lot comprising nearly 22.3 lakh ballot units and 16.3 lakh control units to the Election Commission, a senior EC official said. Around 22.3 lakh ballot units, 16.3 lakh control units and nearly 17.3 lakh VVPATs or paper trail machines will be used for the 2019 LS polls. The number of machines includes the buffer stock for training as well as replacements.
These machines would be deployed at the nearly 10.6 lakh polling stations across India in the next parliamentary elections. The Bharat Electronics Ltd and the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd were mandated to deliver these machines to the poll panel by September 30 “and now the delivery has been completed,” the official said. The M2 or mark 2 type EVMs (2006-10) can cater to a maximum of 64 candidates including NOTA. There is provision for 16 candidates in a balloting unit. If the total number of candidates exceeds 16, more balloting units can be attached up to a maximum of 64 candidates by connecting four balloting units.
However, in case of M3 EVMs, which came after 2013, a maximum of 384 candidates including NOTA can be catered to by connecting 24 balloting units. During simultaneous elections, two separate sets of EVMs are required, one for the parliamentary constituency and the other for legislative assembly constituency. According to a September 26 release of the EC, the poll panel has estimated 171 per cent ballot units, 125 per cent control units and 135 per cent paper trail machines requirement for the Lok Sabha polls. In case of an error with the VVPAT, the machine is replaced with a reserve. But in case a ballot unit or control unit malfunctions, the entire set of ballot unit, control unit and VVPAT is replaced.
Till date, EVMs have been used in 113 Assembly elections and three Lok Sabha elections since 2000. Amid demands by some opposition parties to go back to ballot papers, the Commission has maintained that use of EVMs has ended the days of booth capturing and the delays and errors in counting of ballot papers. At a recent all-party meeting, several parties had questioned the reliability of voting machines, alleging that they could be tampered with.
Seventeen opposition parties have come together to make a fresh demand that voters in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections exercise their franchise by stamping the ballot paper, not pressing the button on EVMs.