Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election, a nationwide awareness programme on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is underway to provide citizens with a first-hand experience of the voting process and familiarise them with the machines, an Election Commission of India (ECI) official said. The programme includes outreach and awareness activities in 3,464 assembly constituencies spread across 613 districts in 31 states and Union Territories (except the five states that went to polls recently).
According to the ECI, more than 3,500 demonstration centres and around 4,250 mobile vans have been set up to physically demonstrate the working of EVM/VVPAT to the public. The Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) and District Electoral Officers (DEOs) will also share the updates on social media platforms to enhance the outreach of this awareness programme.
According to the EC, the aim of this awareness programme is to provide citizens with first-hand experience of the voting process and familiarise them with the voting machines.
The awareness programme, which is organised ahead of every election for the Lok Sabha or state Assembly, focuses on imparting knowledge about the basic features of EVMs and VVPATs, elucidating the step-by-step procedure of casting votes and educating voters on how to verify their choices through the VVPAT slip.
“Awareness through physical demonstration fosters deeper understanding of EVM and VVPAT functionality and is instrumental in dispelling misconceptions, boosting voter confidence, and ensuring a more informed and participative electorate”, the ECI told IANS.
As per ECI's standing instructions, state Chief Electoral Officers need to start a focused awareness campaign nearly three months prior to the announcement of election (for this purpose the date of announcement of the last election may be considered). A schedule for the awareness campaign is prepared by the DEO assembly constituency/segment-wise, which is also shared with national and state recognised political parties and local media.
The Commission has a detailed standard operating procedure for use of EVMs for training and awareness purposes, including public demonstration programmes.
Standard operating procedures include protocol for handling and storage of training and awareness EVMs, use of only FLC-OK EVMs with dummy symbols, destruction of VVPAT slips generated during training and awareness, etc.