Heat's on. Will EVMs deliver? | india | Hindustan Times
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Heat's on. Will EVMs deliver?

With mercury hovering around 47?C, officials are worried EVMs might develop snags, reports Rakeeb Hossain.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 16:09 IST

The men-in-fatigues are at hand to fend off the Maoist threat, arrangements for food and lodging have been made.

Poll officials are being armed with packets of ORS so that they don't wilt in the heat. But what of the EVMs?

A big cause of worry for poll officials here is the rising mercury. With temperatures hovering around 47 degrees Celsius in Purulia, officials are worried that the electronic voting machines might develop snags.

The 40-page manual of the machine sounds a warning. Protect the sensitive machines against "extreme heat" or expect trouble.

Moreover, it also recommends that the machines must be kept far away from dust and water.

Easier said than done in Purulia, where the dust is just about everywhere.

"The booth officials are at their wits' end on how to protect the EVM machines if the temperature rises further. The Election Commission has supplied packets of ORS to the polling officials, but what of the machines?" said a presiding officer at Kotshila in Jhalda.

"Most of the polling stations should be housed in semi permanent structures or small school buildings and it would be quite impossible to protect the machines from heat or dust," he added.

Hundreds of officials had gathered there to collect the EVMs from the Kotshila distribution centre before leaving for their polling stations.

The poll officials are nostalgic about the old days when iron boxes and ballot papers were used for voting and the boxes could be thrown without bothering.

But engineers are hopeful that the temperature would not play spoilsport on Monday.

"The machines are sensitive to extreme heat, but we don't expect problem if they are kept indoors. Even if the temperature rises to 50 degrees Celsius, the machines will perform. But they must be handled with care and be kept away from dust," said an engineer at the EVM Cell at Purulia Polytechnic College distribution centre.