Namibia buys Indian voting machines for Presidential poll

30 Apr 2014 21:00

Ahead of its Presidential Election, the Namibian Government has purchased 3 400 India-made electronic voting machines (EVMs) which have already been used by other countries in Asia to conduct smooth and fair polls. 

Purchased at a cost of Namibian N$10m from Bangalore-based public sector unit, Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL), the EVMs will be used in the Southern African nation for their elections scheduled for November, top officials told a news agency. 

Namibia, which had ordered 1 700 EVMs in 2013, placed another order earlier this year, is the first African country to use such machines in any of its polls. 

Officials said a seven-member delegation from the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) had visited various polling stations in Karnataka including its capital, Bangalore, when the Lok Sabha polls were held April 17 and were impressed by the system.

Speaking to a news agency, Namibian High Commissioner Pius Dunaiski said: "In the entire Asian region, India is of pivotal importance for us. It's developing technologies and the high advanced EVMs are a great learning point for us.” 

"Namibia had sent a few members from the information technology team to familiarise themselves with the functioning of the EVMs.” 

"A delegation will soon visit New Delhi to understand the vote counting process, including the software which is used at result centres during the announcement of results," Dunaiski told a news agency.

The envoy stressed that the main reason Namibia is keen on purchasing the Indian made EVMs lies in its benefits like faster results, reduction in the number of spoilt ballots, low expenses in conducting the polls, and the elimination of potential avenues of manipulation avenues.

"Newly introduced features like the None of the Above (NOTA) button in order to vote against all the contesting candidates in a constituency, in-built clocks and Braille markings for the visually impaired, are some other reasons that have drawn the officials of the Namibia's Electoral Commission," Dunaiski said. 

Some other features of EVMs that impressed the commission was that they eliminated the possibility of vote tempering by displaying the time when the vote was cast along with recording the ballot. It also gives hourly polling updates. 

A senior official from BEL told IANS that India's EVMs are "more advanced" than those in the west. 

"Our EVMs are more advanced as compared to those used in western nations. The EVMs we manufacture can adopt to any electoral process. Our machines are time savy, environment friendly and mobile," he said. 

"These are the reasons why the Namibian Government has ordered our EVMs," he added. 

The company, which is six decades old, has provided 8.5 lakh new EVMs to the Election Commission for the ongoing Lok Sabha poll. 

Earlier, it had also provided over 3,000 such machines to Bhutan for conducting their polls.