The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rest easy, your vote is safe

Jamshedpur/Ranchi, April 1: Electronic voting machines will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, electoral malpractices, claimed officials, because the machines can be used only once in 12 seconds and need to be re-set before the next vote is cast.

The machine will automatically switch off after every vote is cast. In other words, even when workers of a political party “capture” a booth, they will find it impossible to cast more than five votes in a single minute. That too is possible only with the connivance of polling personnel.

At the end of polling, the personnel will also be able to report any misadventure or abuse of the machines, which would lead to cancellation of polling at that booth, they explained. Since polling personnel will be drawn from different districts and at every booth 50 per cent of the poll personnel will be from other districts, it will be difficult for political parties to influence all of them.

Yet another precaution being taken is that personnel will be informed of the booth they will man, barely hours before the polling begins. This too, they hope, will make it difficult for parties to influence them.

The electronic voting machines, they pointed out, do not register votes cast randomly, unlike in the case of ballot papers which could be stamped and stuffed in the ballot box. While every voter is expected to press one button to cast his vote, a long beep and a glowing red light would indicate every time that the machine has recorded the vote. The machine has to be re-set for fresh voting before the next vote can be cast. Polling officers can stop the machine from registering votes with the press of a button. In such cases a new machine will have to be used to register more votes. The machines are in two parts; while the ballot unit will be accessible to the voters, the control unit will be with the polling personnel. It will be difficult to tamper with the machines because polling personnel at the booth will be stationed barely 1.5 metres away from the voters’ enclosure.

The EVMs function on batteries. Before they are sent to the polling stations, they would be checked and sealed. These machines can be in operation for 100 hours at a stretch. Additional chief electoral officer S.S. Meena said the state requires 17,061 EVMs.

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