2 lakh new EVMs to replace 10-year-old machines in Maharashtra

The office of the chief electoral officer of Maharashtra will start training its officers to use the new Electronic Voting Machines and begin an awareness drive for voters from next week.

mumbai Updated: Dec 07, 2018 10:38 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
maharashtra,EVMs,election commission
Maharashtra will receive two lakh new electronic voting machines and one lakh VVPAT machines which will be used for the Lok Sabha elections early next year. (AFP File Photo )

The Election Commission of India has decided to replace all electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Maharashtra, after controversy over malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the Lok Sabha bypolls in Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya in May this year. The new machines will also be compatible with the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, which the poll panel has introduced for the elections.

The EVMs display the names and symbols of contesting candidates, while the VVPAT machines verify that the vote polled goes to the correct candidate. The state has received two lakh new EVMs and one lakh VVPAT machines, which will be used for the Lok Sabha elections early next year. The office of the chief electoral officer of Maharashtra will also start training its officers to use the new machines, and begin an awareness drive for voters from next week.

“The EVMs we have were procured between 2002 and 2006 and are called M-1,” an Election Commission officer. “However, these are not compatible with the VVPATs. We had no option but to replace them with machines called M-3. As all 1.50 lakh EVMs with us are of the M-1 make, we had to replace them all. Other states with the M-2 EVMs may not have to replaceme the whole lot,” the officer added.

Manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, the EVMs are currently being checked at the district level before they are registered in the state machinery.

Maharashtra has over 95,000 polling booths, and needs as many machines or more — for constituencies with multiple candidates. The 1.5 lakh old EVMs are likely to be scrapped as they are not compatible with the VVPATs, which are now mandatory in all elections now.

“Amid doubts being raised over the validity of EVMs, we cannot afford anymore malfunctioning machines, and hence, it was necessary to replace the old ones. To build confidence among voters, we also are launching a drive inviting them to handle the EVMs. This would help us make people aware about the newly introduced VVPATs and how it works,” another officer from cheif electoral officer’s office said.

VVPATs were first used in 14 constituencies during the 2014 Assembly elections, and later in the Lok Sabha bypolls in May this year.

First Published: Dec 07, 2018 10:38 IST