A concerted campaign against authenticity of Electronic Voting Machines used in the Lok Sabha polls 2019 has been launched by the Opposition parties in India. The campaign is a cause of great concern as it undermines the credibility of an institution like Election Commission of India which is the bedrock of Indian democracy.
A day after the exit polls rumour mills run by the Opposition and fuelled by the radical left and urban Naxals through social media and other communication platforms started showing EVM being taken in trucks at a number of places. The Election Commission of India clarified that they were the reserved EVMs which were to be used in case the EVMs in polling booths developed a snag.
It is clear that the Opposition is not only acting as a sore loser but it is becoming a puppet in the hands of the radical left which has infiltrated Congress at the top level as well as the other regional outfits at various levels. Thus minutes after the polling ended on May 19, there was a flurry of statements from them casting doubts on EVMs.
The design of the ultra left is to attack all democratic institutions, undermine their credibility derailing the democratic set-up of the country. Some regional outfits and Congress is becoming a stooge in their hands as they are moving ahead to implement these nefarious designs after they failed to gather support on the ground.
In 2017 Election Commission of India had sent an open invitation by organising a ‘hackethlon’ that invited hackers from any part of the country to come and demonstrate hacking of the EVMs. Why none of the opposition parties showed how EVMs can be tampered with.
Currently some the largest democracies in the world are are using EVMs in their polls effectively. It is interesting that till non-NDA parties were winning polls , therw as no objection to the EVMs and now suddenly we see a grudge against the hapless machines.
The Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was first used in the Kerala’s ‘Parur Assembly’ polls in 1982 when a Congress government was at the Centre. In 1990, the Dinesh Goswami Committee set up by the then government gave a report recommending the use of EVMs. Thus due diligence was dne taking all parties on board. These machines were used in the limited constituencies in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.
The 2004 polls which led to Congress led UPA replacing the BJP led NDA government at the Centre were conducted through EVMS. The 2009 polls which Congress won again were also conducted through EVMs.
During early this year, the Congress formed government in three north Indian states after winning polls which were conducted through EVMs. The party also scored an upset in Karnataka and formed a government along with JD(S) last year after doing well in polls which were conducted through EVMs.
In nutshell, the Opposition’s message is very clear: when the BJP and allied parties lose polls, then EVMs are working fine but when BJP and allied parties win polls, the EVMs are tampered!
Such assertions are an outcome of not only sheer ignorance but they are manifestation of an intent to manipulate the public discourse. Some of the basic facts need to be recalled here regarding the EVMs:
– These EVMs have been designed by the Election Commission’s Technical Expert Committee (TEC) in collaboration with two PSUs, Bharat Electronics Limited, Bangalore and Electronic Corporation of India Limited, Hyderabad.
-The Electronic Voting Machines are used in some of the world’s largest democracies, including Brazil and the Philippines. Some other countries that use EVMs are: 1. Belgium, 2. Estonia, 3. Venezuela, 4. United Arab Emirates, 5. Jordan, 6. Maldives, 7. Namibia, 8. Egypt, 9. Bhutan, and 10. Nepal.
The credibility of India’s EVMs is quite high. In 2014, Nigeria demanded EVMs from India. Indonesia sent its request for use of EVMs in 2016. The year 2017 saw request from four countries, Russia, Bhutan, Botswana and Papua New Guinea. Afghanistan and Namibia have sent their requests in 2019.
Since 2001, the issue of possible tampering of EVM has been raised before various High Courts: Madras High Court (2001), Kerala High Court (2002), Delhi High Court (2004), Karnataka High Court (2004), Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench (2004), Uttarakhand High Court (2017) and Supreme Court of India (2017).
After detailed analysis of the various aspects of the technological security and administrative safeguards around the use of EVMs, the credibility, reliability and robustness of the EVMs has been validated by the various High Courts in all the cases. In some of these cases, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has also dismissed appeals filed by some petitioners against High Court orders, which were in favour of the EVMs.
There are several advantages of using EVMs. It completely eliminates the possibility of casting ‘Invalid Votes’, which during the paper ballot regime was noticed in large numbers during each election. In fact, in many cases, the number of ‘Invalid Votes’ exceeded the winning margin, leading to numerous complaints and litigations. Thus EVMs have enabled a more authentic and accurate reflection of the choice of the electorate.
With the use of EVMs, printing of millions of ballot papers for every election can be dispensed with, as only one ballot paper is required for fixing on the Balloting Unit at each polling station instead of one ballot paper for each individual elector. This results in huge savings by way of cost of paper, printing, transportation, storage and distribution.
The counting process is very quick and the result can be declared within 3 to 5 hours as compared to 30-40 hours, on an average, under the conventional Ballot paper system.The microchip used in EVMs is a one-time programmable/ masked chip, which can neither be read nor overwritten. Hence, the program used in the EVMs cannot be reprogrammed in a particular manner. Furthermore, the EVMs are stand-alone machines which are not accessible remotely from any network are connected with any external devices and there is no operating system used in these machines. There is, therefore, absolutely no chance of programming the EVMs in a particular way to select any particular candidate or political party.
(This write up had first appeared in First Post: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/despite-opposition-protests-electronic-voting-machines-remain-most-credible-secure-and-reliable-method-of-polling-6682801.html)