A prototype of an Electronic Voting Machine with a verifiable paper trail has been developed and will be tested in 200 places across the country by the middle of July.
Election Commission sources say the new EVM will be tested in extreme conditions — from the freezing climate of Ladakh to the high temperature of Jaisalmer and the humid sea coast. The testing process will get over by the end of August. The sources said the EC is likely to approach political parties to witness the testing process across the country. “Once we get the results, the Commission would decide if such EVMs can be used in elections,” a source said.
To understand how the paper trail system works internationally, EC is also likely to send its technical team to countries like Brazil, Venezuela and US. Though Brazil has stopped the paper trail system, Venezuela is using it. EC officials said many states in the US use the system but there is no uniformity.
“We really want to be sure before introducing it,” a source said. He points out various factors like quality of paper on which voting records would be printed, quality of printer and if it would survive extreme conditions and unforeseen factors. “The quality of paper which prints receipt in retail stores is very poor as whatever is printed on it vanishes after some time. Therefore, better quality paper is needed that can be kept as a record for at least few months,” says one official.
The decision to study the possibility of including a voter verifiable paper trail in EVMs was taken by the EC after an all-party meeting. EC had agreed to examine the issue in all its aspects and asked its expert committee consisting of PV Indiresan, former director of IIT Delhi, and DT Shahani and AK Agarwal, both of IIT Delhi, to study the proposal. Based on the expert committee’s recommendations, Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India have developed the prototype.