EVM’s or Electronic Voting Machines are used as a means to contest elections in India. They are also being targetted as being unsafe and a way to technologically hijack the election process in India.
Today let’s discuss who EVM was introduced and how they work, moreover we will also talk about the allegations that people use against its use.
In 1980, M. B. Haneefa invented the first Indian voting machine, gazetted “Electronically operated vote the counting machine” (Gazette: 191/Mas/80, 15 October 1980). His original design (using Integrated Circuits) was exhibited to the public in Government Exhibitions held in six cities across Tamil Nadu.
The EVMs were commissioned in 1989 by Election Commission of India in collaboration with Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited. The Industrial designers of the EVMs were faculty members at the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay.
The EVMs were first used in 1982 in the by-election to North Paravur Assembly Constituency in Kerala for a limited number of polling stations. (Source – Wikipedia )
EVM’s have many benefits along with them. Some of them are :
- EVMs are easier to transport compared to ballot boxes as they are lighter, more portable, and come with polypropylene carrying cases.
- Vote counting is also faster. In places where illiteracy is a factor, illiterate people find EVMs easier than ballot paper system
- Even though the initial investment was heavy, it has since been expected to save costs of production and printing of crores of ballot papers, their transportation and storage, substantial reduction in the counting staff and the remuneration paid to them.
- Bogus voting is greatly reduced as the vote is recorded only once. The unit can store the result in its memory before it is erased manually.
But unlike any other system, it also has its limitations.
Some of the limitations of EVM are :
- A candidate can know how many people from a polling station voted for him. It creates a problem since data analytics can be used to target a particular group which is bad for democracy.
- Moreover, if lop-sided votes for/against a candidate are cast in individual polling stations and the winning candidate might show favoritism or hold a grudge on specific areas.
So far we have seen both advantage and limitations but EVM’s also face heat from different political parties as being hackable. These allegations have been around for quite a time now and parties have demanded a return to ballot paper-based election system.
Many leaders have spoken against EVM’s and their transparency. Some of the allegations put forward are :
- Mayawati has dismissed the Uttar Pradesh assembly election results and said tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) was responsible for her party’s poor showing.
- In the political resolution of the party at the 84th Congress Open Plenary Session, the Rahul Gandhi-led grand old party said that the voting and counting process must remain transparent to retain people’s faith in the integrity of the electoral system.
- SP chief Akhilesh Yadav today termed EVMs as “dangerous trend for democracy” and demanded that all future elections be conducted through paper ballots.
Reasons for Allegations:
Many current opposition parties have designated EVM as fraudulent, but what are the reasons behind these allegations.
And it is interesting to notice that all these allegations came only when they lose. For example – when Akhilesh lost he blamed EVMs but when he recently won by-polls he did not blame EVM’s.
Another example -Congress blamed EVM but when they were finally able to form Government in Karnataka recently then all their talks were no longer heard.
So is it a serious problem or politicians are using it as a way to sidetrack their criticism.
Use of VVPAT :
Recently VVPAT (Voter-verified paper audit trail) was added as a security measure.
Its work was to show the voter a slip for 6 seconds and that slip will contain the symbol of the party for which they voted. It was done to add more credibility to the voting process of India, but events did not go as planned.
During recent elections many machines malfunctioned and a re-election was called. Opposition targetted Center government on this topic and used it as a proof against EVM machines.
Official Reason for BreakDown :
When ECI (Election Commision of India) people were asked on this topic they responded by saying that “Excessive heat” has resulted in the breakdown of EVM.
They also said that new VVPAT machines caused problems in the process as they were not yet fully functional.
They further acknowledged the fact that when the direct sun or tube light rays fall on the machines then they are likely to fail.
The future :
Researchers have proposed the use of Optical Scan Voting System for a more credible system of voting and to ensure that elections are contested without any allegations.
Although we might move to such technology, India has already put its money into the EVM that this scenario is not likely to happen in recent future.
What is your stand on this ? and do you have faith in the voting system of India or you demand old Ballot paper System.