The Electronic Voting Machines, manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd, has the capacity to include only 64 names and if the number exceeds, then the Election Commission will have to resort to ballot papers.
"Elections can be conducted through EVMs when the maximum number of candidates does not exceed 64. In case the number of nominees goes beyond 64, poll has to be conducted through ballot papers," a senior official said.
It was in 1982 that the EVMs were used for the first time in India during a by-election to the north Paravoor assembly seat in Kerala for a limited number of polling stations. The EVMs were used in 50 polling stations then.
Twenty-two years later, the Lok Sabha election was conducted completely through EVMs. Prior to 2004, polls used to eat up a huge quantity of paper with 1999 polls witnessing the use of 7,700 metric tonnes for printing ballot papers.
The 1996 election saw use of 8,800 metric tonnes for the same. The decrease in the quantity of paper used may be because of the drastic reduction in the number of candidates in 1999 compared to 1996. There were 13,952 candidates in 1996 while the number in 1999 plummeted to 4,648.
A single EVM, which runs on alkaline batteries, can record a maximum of 3,840 votes which far exceeds the number of voters assigned in a polling station. The Commission will be using around 11 lakh electronic voting machines for the exercise to be held in over 8.28 lakh polling stations across the country in the elections to be held in April and May.
According to Election Commission, the Indian EVM is a far simpler machine than its counterpart in the United States. Unlike in the US, the EVMs used in India are stand alone machines which cannot be connected to any network and controlled through network or remote.
Its original programme contained in a burnt chip cannot be altered making it tamper-proof. The Indian EVMs were used in Bhutan during the elections last year. These machines were also used by Nepal for some constituencies during the last general elections in the Himalayan country.
According to a survey conducted by an NGO 'Centre for Study of Developing Society', about 97 per cent felt that EVMs were better than the marking system of ballot papers.