If simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies are held in 2019, the Election Commission will require nearly 24 lakh electronic voting machines, double the number required to hold only the Parliamentary polls.
During their discussion with the Law Commission on May 16 on the issue of holding simultaneous polls, the EC officials had said they would need around Rs 4,500 crore to buy nearly 12 lakh additional electronic voting machines and an equal number voter-verifiable paper audit trail machines.
The estimate was based on the current cost to procure the devices, sources privy to the deliberations said.
In case simultaneous polls are held, two separate sets of EVMs and VVPAT machines will have to be placed in separate compartments for those contesting the Lok Sabha polls and the Assembly elections respectively.
“There are nearly 10 lakh polling stations across the country. Since EVMs and paper-trail machines are deployed in every polling station, the requirement is for 10 lakh EVMs and an equal number of paper-trail machines. In addition, 20 per cent of the machines are kept in the reserve. That comes to two lakh. Therefore, to hold the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, the EC needs 12 lakh EVMs and an equal number of VVPAT machines,” explained a functionary.
Thus, if simultaneous polls were held in 2019, the EC would require double the number of the EVMs, which was 24 lakh, he added.
The functionary said as of now, five polling personnel are deployed per polling station. For simultaneous polls, the poll panel believes seven personnel will be required per polling station.
Assuming that simultaneous polls were “again” held in 2024, the EC would need Rs 1,700 crore to replace some of the old EVMs, which would complete their 15-year life span by then, the sources said.
The Electronics Corporation of India Ltd and the Bharat Electronics Ltd, two public sector undertakings, manufacture the EVMs and VVPAT machines. They would have to work on an overdrive to provide the required number of devices in time, if simultaneous polls were held in 2019, they added.
Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat had a word of caution on simultaneous polls when he recently said the legal framework required for holding the elections together would take time to be readied.
“We cannot put the cart before the horse. Logistical issues are subservient to the legal framework. Unless the legal framework is in place, we do not have to talk about anything else, because the legal framework will take a lot of time. Making constitutional amendments to (changing) the law -- the process will take time,” he had said.
Rawat had said once the legal framework was ready, the EC would be out with its proposals.
“The EC is a creation of the Constitution. We have to perform willy-nilly, deliver the election, whatever way prescribed in the law,” he had said.