Things you did not know about EVMs – but were afraid to ask


New Delhi : Did you know that the use of electronic voting machines, or EVMs, results in the saving of nearly 10,000 tonnes of paper that in turn preserves forests where trees are cut down to produce paper?

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About 7,700 tonnes of paper was used for printing of ballot papers in the 1999 general elections, whereas 8,800 tonnes of paper was used for the purpose in the 1996 general elections. With the electorate going up steadily, more than 10,000 tonnes of paper would have to be used for this general election if there had been no EVMs.

Voters in all Lok Sabha constituencies going to the polls in April-May will cast their votes through EVMs. The house has 543 elective seats.

Here are some more interesting facts about the handy device:

* The EVM is a simple electronic device used to record votes in place of ballot papers and boxes which were used earlier.

* The EVM was first used in India in 1982 in a by-election at the Parur assembly constituency of Kerala and in only 50 polling stations.

* EVMs are manufactured by two central government undertakings – Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited. The Election Commission of India gets EVMs from both them.

* An EVM can be used in areas without electricity as it runs on alkaline batteries.

* An EVM can record a maximum number of 3,840 votes which far exceeds the number of voters (usually less than 1,400) assigned to a polling station.

* Elections can be conducted through EVMs if the number of candidates does not exceed 64. If the number of candidates exceeds 64, the poll has to be conducted through conventional ballot paper/boxes.

* Utmost care has been taken to make EVM tamper-proof. The programming of the microprocessor chip used in EVMs is burned into the chip. Any attempt to alter the existing programme on the chip would destroy its existing programme and render it useless.

* The polling result is stored permanently in the memory chip of the EVM till it is intentionally cleared for readying the machine for subsequent elections. Removal of batteries from the machine does not have any effect on its memory.

* The 2004 general elections were conducted totally by using 10.75 lakh (1.075 million) EVMs in the country.