The elections for the Lok Sabha will be a historic one as India is one of the largest democratic countries, which is all set to executive the democratic right – to vote. The voting is scheduled in April and May in 9 phases to ensure it is manageable and that polls are also free and fair.
Electronic Voting Machines
The electronic voting machines for elections were used years back in the past elections. The pros of electronic voting machines are many, such as:
- It saves the voter from manually using the stamp to vote
- It is convenient and cost effective if used properly
- It is reliable and ensures fair elections provided the machine is not sabotaged
…And the verifiable audit paper will help the voter to be sanguine on the vote. in case the electronic machine developed a snag, the drop box printed slips can be used as an alternative to count.
Problems with Voting Machines
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has take up issues in West Bengal were some voters complained that they had used the Electronic voting machines during elections to vote for a party of their choice but it turned out that the machines were either faulty or sabotaged. It so happened that each click made by the voter on the machine against a corresponding party went to one party irrespective of which button the voter pressed.
In short, the polls were not fair and that machines did not work properly. It could not be ascertained whether correct vote was cast. The voters felt deprived and cheated as a result.
So, the Election Commission has now ordered that the electronic voting machines for coming elections will have a verifiable paper audit trail which will release a printout of what the voter has voted and the voter can drop the printed paper on the drop box.
The voter can also see from a transparent window on the machine certain data to know to whom he or she has voted. The serial number and part number and the party candidate will be displayed in the transparent window of the voting machine. So, whether he only uses the machine for voting or uses the printout to vote, he will be sure that he has voted to the party or candidate of his choice.
Initiative to Implement Audit Paper Printouts
A workshop was carried out by the Election Commission where poll workers as well as political parties were shown how to use election voting machines as well as the audit paper. The entire process of pressing the button and dropping the printout was shown.
The ECI hopes that this method will be one of the successful methods to ensure free-and-fair elections in India. There are many pros of electronic voting machines and that is why the ECI earlier had introduced this machine for voting. However, certain political parties sabotaged it and rigged the polls. The ECI hopes that the loopholes have been plugged now and that this machine along with the audit paper will be used in some polling booths this election. If it is successful, the entire kit will be used in the future elections.
Use of Audit Verifiable Papers
The ECI has discussed with the government to come up with an amendment in the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 where an additional feature was introduced in the electronic voting machines. In August 14, 2014 the amendment was passed by the Law and Justice Division where a printer could be attached to the voting machine and a drop box would be also provided with it to ensure voters could drop the slip which states to whom they voted into the drop box.
What Happens if Printer Shows Some Other Candidate?
Like it happened earlier, if the printed paper shows that the voter did not actually vote that candidate that was printed in the paper, the presiding polling officer will take a written declaration from the voter about the snag. If true, the polling through the machine will be stopped and manual voting will be done.
So, if you see the electronic voting machine in the polling station, make sure you drop your printout and be sanguine that you have voted for the right candidate.