While various people with adequate knowledge of the intricacies of the matter, including the Election Commission of India itself, have provided several reassurances on the matter, politicians staring at a defeat are casting aspersions on the legitimacy of the elections and wish to see India return to paper ballots.
Regardless of the Opposition parties’ tirade against EVMs, it is worth looking at the significant advantages they have over paper ballots.
1. More Economical
The cost of each unit of M2 EVMs (manufactured between 2006-10) is Rs. 8670 while that of M3 EVMs has been tentatively fixed at Rs. 17,000 per unit. While it might seem a lot at first glance, considerable savings are made with regards to paper ballots which are required in lakhs every election and costs related to their transportation and storage. Costs are also reduced in the remuneration paid to the counting staff as there are significantly less numbers required for it.
2. Easier for people who cannot read or write
EVMs make it easier for illiterate people to register their votes in comparison to paper ballots. As the Election Commission says, “Voting by EVMs is much simpler compared to the conventional system, where one has to put the voting mark on or near the symbol of the candidate of his choice on the Ballot Paper, fold it first vertically and then horizontally and
thereafter put it into the ballot box. In EVMs, the voter has to simply press the blue button on Ballot Unit against the candidate and symbol of his choice and the vote is recorded.”
3. Ensures “One Man One Vote”
The mechanism of the EVM machine is such that once a person casts his vote, the machine goes into a lock-down mode until the polling officer releases the ballot by pressing the Ballot button for the next voter. Even if a voter continues to press a button repeatedly, after the first time, no further vote will be cast. It’s a distinct advantage over paper ballots where an individual can cast multiple votes if the officers aren’t careful enough.
4. Solves the menace of Invalid Votes
Invalid votes were a huge menace during the reign of paper ballots. Invalid ballots are those votes which are deemed invalid because of manual errors during the casting of votes. Sometimes, the number of invalid votes were so great that the total was larger than the victory margin between the winner and the runner-up. EVMs solves this problem completely.
To understand the magnitude of the problem, of the 35,937 constituencies that went to the Assembly polls between 1961 and 2003, nearly 4,993 saw the polling of more invalid votes than the margin between the winner and the runner-up. Thus, it could be very well argued that invalid votes had an impact on the final results.
Thus, quite clearly, EVMs capture the will of the people more accurately.
5. Other Advantages
During the conventional paper ballot system, 30 to 40 hours were required on an average to declare the results. While using EVMs, results can be declared within 3 to 5 hours. The less the time required, the less is the ambiguity regarding the results.
Also, EVMS are lighter, portable and come with custom-made polypropylene carrying cases for ease of transport and therefore, easier to transport than paper ballots. Moreover, the votes stored in the machines can be stored for as long as required and be reproduced on demand unless deleted. Therefore, the authenticity of the votes can always be checked. The same cannot be said for paper ballots.