A Times of India story states, “Mahant Bharatdas Darshandas is the lone voter in the midst of Gujarat’s Gir forest, home to the Asiatic lion, for whom an entire election team sets up a polling booth every election — and will do so again on April 30. … a polling team [of 4 to 5 people] travels around 35km to reach the hamlet of Banej inside the Gir forest, located in Junagadh district.” We salute the spirit and efforts of ECI to include every eligible citizen in the democratic process of elections.
When we care so much for the lone voter in a forest, are the provisions in populated areas adequate to allow every voter in a booth to cast his vote?
“Operationally an Indian EVM is a set of two units – the ballot unit and the control unit. A vote can be recorded only after the presiding officer enables the ballot unit through the control unit. However, even the presiding officer cannot enable the ballot for twelve seconds after every ballot is cast. Thus, a maximum of five votes can be cast in one minute.” – Dr. SY Quraishi, page 192, An Undocumented wonder; The Making of the Great Indian Election, Rainlight/Rupa.
Taking minimum 12 seconds per voter, an EVM technically allows casting of maximum 5 votes in a minute in ideal conditions. For each voter to move out of the polling box and the next person to enter, we can consider about 18 seconds. Thus, practically, we expect maximum 2 votes cast in one minute if (a) the voters are enthusiastic and clear about the voting process; (b) the polling staff is efficient and ensure smooth uninterrupted flow of voters; (c) electoral rolls are clean and unambiguous … Remember that the officials search names in paper rolls – not on a computer terminal. People on polling duty take time to find a name in the rolls if the voter does not carry a voter slip with correct details. Though required, CEO-KA has not been giving voter slips in some areas. Queues at times stagnate when a name is not found in the rolls.
Polling booths remain open for 11 hours as directed by ECI. With uninterrupted flow of voters and super efficient polling booth staff, 120 votes cast per hour, 1,320 votes may be cast per booth in a day.
Paragraph 37 of ERO Handbook, published by ECI in 2012 states, “… Registration of Electors Rules, 1960 indicates that the number of names to be included in any part should not ordinarily exceed 2000. The commission has however, with voter’s convenience in mind, has desired that a part should not have more than 1200 electors in urban area and 1000 electors in rural area.”
ECI guidelines are not only for voter convenience, but are necessary to allow the system to work even in ideal conditions. If the voters in a booth exceed 1,200, many voters may not get their turn to vote.
Reality: 2,028 booths (more than 26%) out of 7,712 booths of Bangalore have more than 1,200 voters each. Booth# 280 of Sarvagnanagar constituency has 3101 voters. How can we expect more than 50% voter turnout in this booth?