Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) – Ensuring Fair Elections

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), devised and designed by Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), is a major step in this process in ensuring free and fair elections. ECIL, the pioneer of electronic revolution in India had introduced the concept of EVM in the year 1980.

01 January, 2016 Governance, Case Studies
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Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), devised and designed by Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), is a major step in this process in ensuring free and fair elections. ECIL, the pioneer of electronic revolution in India had introduced the concept of EVM in the year 1980. Election Commission of India (ECI) used it first for conducting by-elections at two constituencies in 1989.

With active encouragement and co-operation of the ECI, ECIL had designed and produced advanced version of the EVMs in 1989. 1994 onwards, the EVMs were used more frequently – and by the 2004 General Elections, the scale of uses was maximised.

Subsequently, ECI and State Election Commissions (SEC) have been using EVMs for the elections throughout the country. ECIL has continuously incorporated advanced security features for strengthening security, verifiability and traceability. The EVM is designed to record, store, count, display and print all polling data. The EVMs have revolutionised election process in India – with bulk of the EVMs, being used by the ECI and SEC to support various types of elections.

Challenges

  • Printing large number of ballot papers.
  • Storage and transportation of ballot papers in a short time to the various polling centres.
  • Manual Counting of Ballot Papers was too time-consuming.
  • Significant number of invalid votes.
  • Preserving the ballot papers after the elections till the end of the legal period and destroying them as per the security norms.
  • Huge costs incurred towards paper, printing, transportation, storage and distribution.
  • Electoral malpractices like bogus voting and booth capturing.
  • No friendly system for differently-abled citizens.
  • Not eco-friendly.

Solution

EVMs consist of two units, the Control Unit and one or more Ballot Units. The Control Unit is kept with polling officer in the booth. The Ballot Units are placed in the voting compartment and used by the voters. Each Ballot Unit has 16 candidate buttons. Additional Ballot Units (maximum 24) can be cascaded depending on the number of contesting candidates. The EVMs are designed with adequate capacity to accommodate General Elections with a maximum 384 candidates that can be set using 24 Ballot Units.

It leverages advances in technology to strengthen security, verifiability and traceability. The security features include authentication based on Public Key Cryptography (PKC), laser marked unique serial numbers, tamper resistant and tamper detection features.

ECIL has also developed multiple posts – multiple voters’ machines for local body elections and customised the software based on the requirement of various commissions for use in India and other countries.

Outcomes

  • Till now ECIL has already supplied 1.2 million EVMs. In addition, over 1, 00,000 units of multi-post, multi-vote model of EVMs have been supplied to the States like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala.
  • There is huge reduction in the printing of ballot papers, it is estimated to be reduced by 99 per cent.
  • Portable EVMs are carried by polling staff with ease.
  • Number of polling staffs and counting time has been reduced by 70 per cent.
  • No invalid votes.
  • As EVMs are reusable, they are stored and voting data is in the semiconductor memory is cleared with ease, which is environment friendly.
  • Acquaintance of new expertise with regard to technology.
  • EVMs have become a key product in ECIL’s business portfolio.

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