Credibility of Electronic Voting Machines

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    In News

    • Raising doubts on the credibility of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), Chhattisgarh Chief Minister’s father has written to the President requesting that elections in the country be held using ballot papers.

    About

    • Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) introduced in India in 1982 allow the citizens to vote electronically and ease the job of the Election Commission of India in counting the votes. 
    • It comprises two units – control unit and balloting unit. They are connected by a 5-metre cable. 
    • The EVM runs on a 6-volt single alkaline battery fixed in the control unit. 
    • It can even be used in areas that have no electricity.
    • The control unit is with the Election Commission selected polling officer
    • National Voters’ Day is celebrated on January 25.

    Advantages of electronic voting machines

    • Right to vote: The right to vote is the supreme right of democracy which is being executed through the EVMs.
    • Many developed countries have adopted ballot paper: It is the constitutional duty and the responsibility of the Election Commission and the Central government to introduce such a transparent system of voting and counting in the elections which can be evaluated by the public, the voters, themselves.
      • Despite this fact, by conducting polling using the machines in India, which is the biggest democracy in the world, the constitutional right to vote is being violated.
    • Difficult for the hackers to hack: In most of the advanced versions of electronic voting machines, there are no external communication paths which make it difficult for the hackers to hack the machine and tamper the count numbers.
    • Electronic voting machines are cost effective and economical: In the paper ballot, the amount of raw material used is higher. It directly impacts the environment as paper ballots use papers to cast votes.
    • Time savers: one can count the votes in a few minutes which make life easier for the election officers on duty. In a paper ballot, the vote counting process is quite tedious and time-consuming.
    • Electronic voting machines are quite effective against bogus votes: Electronic voting machines are programmed to capture a maximum of five votes in a minute. Due to which a single vote cannot cast fake votes.
    • Electronic voting machines are easier to carry and transport from one place to another without any hassle: One single machine can record several votes captured through that machine.

    Disadvantages of electronic voting machines

    • No certification: No nationally or internationally recognised institutions or governments have certified the EVMs as cent per cent accurate.
    • Many software programmers have claimed that the electronic voting machines are vulnerable to malicious programming: and if it gets affected then any hacker can hack the machine and can tamper the vote counts easily.
    • Loss of data: The biggest change with technology is that no matter how much data it records, a single virus can destroy the entire data storage.
    • The highly humid area and those areas which receive frequent rainfall are not suitable for casting votes using electronic voting machines: As machines are prone to damage due to high humidity level, thus usage of electronic voting machines is not advisable in such areas.
    • Most of the electronic voting machines used in the country were foreign manufactured: which means the secret codes that control the electronic voting machines are in foreign hands and they can be used to influence the election results.
    • Fake votes: Most of the electronic voting machines used in the country do not have any mechanism by which the voter can verify their identity before casting the vote due to which fake voters can cast numerous fake votes.

    Advantages of paper ballot

    • The paper ballot is a traditional method used for vote counting: The basic thing it is able to provide to the voters is the trust factor. As it does not have electronic circuits, it is impossible to hijack elections which use the paper ballot.
    • Few of the Electronic voting machines work on the battery: This might get stuck in between due to low power charge. Thus, in the case of uninterrupted voting, paper ballots are the best.
    • Employment: Using paper ballots is time-consuming but it generates a lot of employment for the people who are engaged in vote counting.
    • The paper ballot is also effective in reducing fake and bogus votes: as the software of electronic voting machines can be manipulated with malicious malware which can be used to tamper the actual election results.
    • The votes captured by paper ballot can be stored for a limited period of time: but for electronic voting machines, once they get corrupted it is impossible to get back the original data.
    • In rural areas: where the cases of robbery are more, in such areas, it is easier for the robbers to rob the EVM but it is difficult for them to rob paper ballots.

    Disadvantages of paper ballots

    • There is no scope for automation in the paper ballot system: Electronic voting machines are preferred because it reduces the manual work and with one press of the button, the votes are recorded.
    • Time consuming: post-election, it takes a huge amount of time to count the votes before declaring the results. In electronic voting machines, the counting is done within a few minutes.
    • The people who are physically challenged: find it difficult to cast their votes through the paper ballot and even if they cast their votes using a paper ballot, they require someone to cast their vote on behalf.
    • Paper is a substance that is inflammable: Thus, under certain circumstances, the paper in which the votes were recorded in the ballot might get damaged then it becomes impossible to retrieve the records of the votes.
    • Harmful for the environment: Paper ballots cannot be manipulated but using paper as a raw material in such a voting system it becomes harmful for the environment.
    • Where the governance is corrupt: they can easily insert several bogus paper votes in the ballot and then it becomes impossible to track the honest votes.

    Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT)

    • Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) or verified paper record (VPR) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot less voting system.
    • A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.
    • It contains the name of the candidate (for whom vote has been cast) and symbol of the party/individual candidate.
    • The VVPAT offers some fundamental differences as a paper, rather than electronic recording medium when storing votes.

    Source: TH