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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Indian EVMs misused

In the recent elections of Delhi MCD, Punjab, Goa and UP the first generation Electronic Voting Machines were used. We all thought that the utilization of electronic voting machines would bring down the cost associated with the elections giving the results faster. However we were wrong. It did deliver results, but at the same time it did not save costs as this machines cost well over Rs 12,000 per unit in today's money. The worst part of it being it is highly susceptible to hacking. 

      There have been examples where independent candidates have got 0 votes. He did not get even his own vote or his family member's vote. 

    An EVM is essentially a very simple electronic device which stores the information of the number of votes to whom. In EVMs memory it is stored 1,2,3...16. The numbers correspond to the political party whose symbol you see in the EVM. However as you see in the video below, the ease with which the first generation Indian EVM can be hacked. 

    All one needs to do is to change the motherboard. It takes only 90 seconds to change an EVM motherboard. The new motherboard would have a programme in the ROM that would do all the manipulation depending on the number code that is entered into the EVM during the election and that is how the result manipulation would take place. 

    The first generation Indian electronic voting machines are a real threat to democracy. Most probably in 2014 LokSabha elections we saw the first instance of EVM manipulation. In Punjab, Goa and Delhi MCD the shocking results have been due to manipulated Electronic Voting Machines. 

    The recent Delhi MCD bypolls on two seats resulted in BJP losing deposit in both the seats, how can this happen in a period of just one month. Well, the bypoll happened through VVPAT(Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) machine. A VVPAT machine is a third generation EVM and when a vote is cast a paper is printed that shows the voter the symbol of the party for which he/she voted for seven seconds and then falls into a box. With VVPAT if a candidate is not happy with the result, he can ask for manual counting of the paper votes. 

     However even VVPAT machines I feel are not safe. Since it may so happen that the voter may see one paper printed in front of him. However the paper that goes into the box contains symbol of another political party and ultimately if the votes are to be counted it is better to have a ballot paper system of voting. 

     Free and Fair elections are the basis on which each democracy stands. If the elections are not free and fair then that nation is doomed into getting into an era of dictatorship. 


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