GUWAHATI, April 1 - Around 40,000 EVMs (electronic voting machines) have been brought to the State for the Lok Sabha elections and they are undergoing multiple checks and drills.
The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), an independent system attached with the EVMs, that allow the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended through slips generated and exposed through a window for seven seconds, will be used in all the machines this time.
Brought zone-wise from the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) factory in sealed trucks, the EVMs, which were kept in strong rooms, underwent the first level of functional and behavioural checking in December in the presence of engineers and political parties. At this level, defective EVMs were kept aside, an election official told The Assam Tribune.
The first round of randomisation of the machines began on March 17 for allotting them to a particular assembly segment. The serial numbers of the EVMs are fed in a tracking software that does the process of randomisation and allots the EVMs to a particular assembly segment. The list of assembly constituency-wise randomised machines (control unit and ballot unit) is shared with the political parties.
Presently, the EVMs are undergoing the second round of randomisation for allotting them to specific polling stations. This is also done through a software in the presence of the election observer and candidates.
At the returning officer level, the pairing of the EVMs is also done as the machines come in three parts � control unit, ballot unit and VVPAT unit.
The official said the EVMs are commissioned after setting of the candidate names and symbols following which a mock poll is also conducted.
�After finalisation of the candidates, the ballot paper is inserted in the ballot unit and the number of candidates set. This is also done in the presence of candidates and engineers. A mock poll is conducted on every EVM. In five per cent of the machines, 1,000 votes are polled as a drill and the VVPAT system checked simultaneously,� the official elaborated.
A portion of the EVMs has been kept on reserve with the returning officers, while some have been kept aside for training purpose. The number of reserve EVMs vary for different districts.
Another mock drill will be conducted before the start of the poll on the polling day. At least 50 votes will be polled in the mock drill in the presence of candidates or their agents.
Officials say the EVMs, which are standalone machines with one time programmable chips and real time clock for time and date stamping key press, are not difficult to handle. �The polling personnel have been given the necessary training. But one or two engineers from the ECIL will be stationed in each constituency. These engineers cannot directly handle the machines and will only assist the returning officer in case of any malfunctioning,� the official added.