Election Universe

Voting technology and the Indian challenge

Voting technology and the Indian challenge
March 27 2014, 21:32

The most populated democracy in the world is about to embark on the largest election ever held.

India´s election of the 16th Lok Sabha – the lower house of the Parliament – will be an electoral marathon running for five weeks (from 7 April until 12 May), and serving 814 million voters.

Organizing an election for a voter roll totaling more people than the population of the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and Mexico combined, is a daunting challenge.

To maximize the efficiency in the  administration of the election, the Election Commission of India (ECI) is relying on its electoral technology.

Since 1982, India has been a frontrunner in the adoption of election automation. The ECI began using voting machines designed and manufactured in collaboration with Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited, two prominent state-owned companies.

These Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines, are still used today to simplify and speed the voting process and the proclaiming of results.

They consist of two units connected by a five meter cable. The Control Unit gives the control of the process to the Election Officer. The Balloting Unit enables the voter to choose options by offering the voter with a button for each choice of representatives.


In addition to approximately 1.8 million voting machines, a series of apps will also assist authorities. Their development is part of a plan initiated by the ECI in 1997 to expand the use of Information Technology in Electoral Management and Administration.

Some of these are:

Electoral Roll Management System (ERMS) –ERMS was designed by India´s National Informatics Centre (NIC)  to optimize how the electoral roll data is collected, processed and maintained.

General Election System (GENESYS) – An application to capture pre-counting data from Chief Electoral Officer offices and district centers all over India during election-day.

Election Tracking-ComET  – A monitoring system used to collect data about officials, opening of the polls, and any relevant issues pertaining to the organization of the event. It is a practical tool to keep those in charge in control of the election.

It was first introduced in 2009 and is now deployed at the national level.

Election Trends and Results – This is an application developed by Indian (NIC) to show online election trends and results. It can also sent information gathered via e-mail.

Indian election in numbers:

  • Some 814 million voters are eligible to participate.
  • 1.8 million electronic voting machines will be deployed across the 930,000 polling stations.
  • Distributed across a territory of 1,269,346 square miles will choose 543 parliamentary constituencies.
  • Voting is not compulsory and turnout in the past few elections has averaged about 59%.

“Front image is a courtesy of  Somchai Som/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”