EVMs testing: In the wake of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and the forthcoming five assembly polls this year, the Election Commission (EC) has initiated "first-level checks" of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and papertrail machines across the country. The EC stated that testing is being done in a phased manner. "Mock polls are part of the first level check (FLC) process. It is a pan-India exercise. FLC will take place across the country in a phased manner, including all constituencies of Kerala," an Election Commission functionary said.
He was responding to a question on a mock poll taking place in Kerala's Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, which fell vacant following the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after he was convicted in a criminal defamation case in March by a sessions court in Surat. "The EC issues a calendar for such exercises and there are standing instructions that are to be followed by state chief electoral officers," the functionary explained.
FLCs to take place in 5 states
The functionary pointed out that FLCs will also take place in the five poll-bound states of Rajasthan, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh as well as assembly and parliamentary seats where bypolls are due.
At present, the Lok Sabha seats of Wayanad, Pune and Chandrapur (Maharashtra), Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh) and Ambala (Haryana) are vacant. Gandhi's plea seeking a stay on the conviction and sentencing is pending before the Gujarat High Court.
Why FLCs are done?
During FLCs, electronic voting machines and papertrail machines are checked for mechanical flaws by engineers of BEL and ECIL, the two PSUs that manufacture the two equipment. Faulty machines are returned to the manufacturers for repair or replacement. A mock poll is also held to check the two machines in the presence of representatives of political parties.
The general elections are expected to be held across the country by April and May 2024 to elect the members of the 18th Lok Sabha. The tenure of Lok Sabha is scheduled to end on 16 June 2024. The previous general elections were held in April–May 2019.
(With PTI inputs)