EVMs in elections – safe or not?

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The raging debate over whether EVMs are safe or not may one day be settled with a fool-proof VVPAT system. Or will it?



EVMs in elections – safe or not?



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  1. EVM controversy resurfaces : The EVM controversy re-emerged after the recent assembly election results (2017) in which the BJP secured huge majority in the bigger states like UP and Uttarakhand. The opposition parties alleged that the EVMs were tampered with in favour of the BJP. It’s also a fact that the 2004, 2009 and many other elections were lost by the BJP when these EVMs were used. (though BJP had earlier raised objections)
  2. Deep dive? You can read our full Bodhi on State of Indian economy and politics, here and many other Bodhi Saars of elections, here
  3. ECI stands by the machines : The Election Commission of India (ECI) rejected the opposition’s allegations saying that the Indian EVMs were not at all vulnerable to tampering and re-programming from an outside source, and that the Commission exercised all precautions to maintain the security of the machines.
  4. Old and established : Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have been used in India since 1998 & paper ballots have been done away with. EVMs make the entire election process very simple – just a click on the button, and are cost-effective. The use of EVMs has made the vote counting process much faster, delivering results within hours of the start of the counting process.
  5. VVPAT arrives : As early as in 2009, senior BJP leader Shri L K Advani raised doubts about the security features of EVMs. Subramanian Swamy filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the use of EVMs in its current form. The court, while saying that EVMs are not tamper-proof, did not issue any direction to the Election Commission.
  6. VVPAT arrives : Swamy then approached the Supreme Court, which in October 2013, ruled that the Election Commission would use Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) linked to EVMs in a phased manner and their full implementation should be achieved by 2019.
  7. The MP controversy : Even before the EVM controversy could die down, it was reignited after the Congress and the Aam Admi Party (AAP) raised the issue with the Election Commission after a machine used during a trial in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh allegedly dispensed VVPAT slips with BJP’s poll symbol (in April 2017). The machine was reportedly earlier used in Kanpur in the recent assembly elections. Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Saleena Singh, however, denied the reports on Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine dispensing BJP slips.
  8. Advanced M3 Version of VVPAT : In the wake of several political parties questioning whether EVMs are tamper-proof, the ECI now plans to introduce an advanced M3 version of EVM ahead of the 2019 General Elections. More than 9 lakh EVMs purchased before 2006 will be replaced and new voting machines used in the 2019 General Elections. These new machines stop working if they are tampered with. The new M3 EVMs will have a Public Key Interface (PKI)-based mutual authentication between various EVM units for identifying a genuine unit.
  9. Do check out exams-focussed Confidence Booster series of learning resources, here!


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Bodhi Saar: EVMs in elections – safe or not?
EVMs in elections – safe or not?
The raging debate over whether EVMs are safe or not may one day be settled with a fool-proof VVPAT system. Or will it?
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Bodhi Saar
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