EVM Controversy- All you need to know! - Seeker's Thoughts

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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

EVM Controversy- All you need to know!


Since the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines, there are various controversies which came into limelight with time.

Political party, when they lost the elections often blamed the Electronic Voting Machines for defeat. 
source: the hindu




What is an EVM?



EVMs or electronic voting machines provides the voter with a button for each choice which is connected by a cable to an electronic ballot box.



Earlier elections used to happen through ballet paper. The paper used to have the name of candidates and the symbol of their party in front of them. However, EVM has machine format of ballot paper, and it saves the votes in electronic form.



An EVM consists of two units–control unit and balloting unit–and these two are connected by a five-meter cable. When a voter presses a button against the candidate, he/she wishes to vote for, the machine locks itself. This EVM can be opened only with a new ballot number. This way, EVMs ensure that one person gets to vote only once. 




The use of EVM started back in 1982 Kerala Assembly elections. Prior to this only ballot papers and ballot boxes were allowed.



What is VVPAT?



Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) or verifiable paper record (VPR) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballot less voting system. A VVPAT allows voters the possibility to verify that their votes are cast as intended and can serve as an additional barrier to changing or destroying votes.




Why is EVM so controversial?



Since the introduction of EVM, some of the political leaders made huge cry of cheating and even some of them wanted the method to be changed to ballot system.



In the end of 2018, the Opposition parties are set to send a joint memorandum to the Election Commission demanding that the machines should be replaced at the earliest with ballot paper.



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The parties, in a draft memorandum circulated among the signatories, demanded that a physical counter check of the paper trail and matching it with electronic vote should happen mandatorily in at least 50% of all EVMs.



It is an implement able reform without any additional cost, they argued.



They also demanded that in case the difference of votes cast in favour of the winning candidates and the one coming second is less than five %, then there should be mandatory counting of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in every polling station of that constituency.



Not only that while Lok Sabha election were being held during May 2019, just before one or two days before the result was about to declare, the opposition leaders demanded that there should be 100 % verification of the entire assembly segment. In case, a mismatch is found during the random check.



The demand was raised by 22 leaders of Opposition parties.



The opposition leaders even demanded that the VVPATs should be counted in five polling booths per Assembly segment before the counting of votes.

In case of any discrepancy is in VVPAT verification, 100% counting of the slips at all polling stations be done in that particular segment.

However, the Election Commission rejected the demand of Opposition parties for tallying of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in five polling booths in each Assembly segment with the electronic voting machines (EVMs) prior to the counting of votes.

The Commission took up the matter in his meeting and after deliberations, decided to reject the demands.

Why EVMs are in controversy? 

The only way an EVM can be tampered with is by physically opening it up and replacing the chipset inside it. The chipset used is non-reprogrammable and data is ‘burnt’ into the device. So, today it is possible to replace the chip if we have access to EVMs.

These specifications were given by the Election commissioner himself during an interview on Rajya Sabha TV.

The Election Commission of India even kept an open challenge during 2018 for tempering with the EVM.

There were various videos and news circulating across the web blaming the government for cheating to win, however, the government does not play part in conducting the elections.



The only constitutional body to conduct free and fair election is the- Election Commission of India.

On the VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) front too, there are reports of malfunctioning. Also, as per the rules, paper ballots and VVPAT machines are not counted until the Returning Officer asks for it.

Therefore, the election commission often denied the report of tempering as EVM’s are no where connected to with any other device, or internet. The entire data is collected in a pre-inserted chip. EVM’s remain under high security and are assigned randomly for different places.



Why is India using EVMs?


Using EVMs means doing away with paper ballots, and in turn, saving millions of trees from being cut.

It makes the entire process of voting simpler-a click on the button and your vote is registered. EVMs, in the long-run, have turned out to be cost-effective as well. These machines don’t require electricity and run on batteries. At the same time, the EVMs are lighter and portable compared to the huge ballot boxes.

And most importantly, EVMs have made the vote-counting process much faster, delivering results in hours as against manual counting of votes which could take days.


Why to support EVM?

EVMs led to a significant decline in electoral fraud, particularly in politically sensitive States as rigging elections became extremely expensive.

Research has shown a link between luminosity and growth rate, suggesting that EVMs contribute to development.

 EVMs empowered those from the weaker sections of society who were victims of political or electoral violence. In particular, women, lower castes, and those less educated were more likely to participate in the electoral process when EVMs were used.

EVMs made the electoral process more competitive.

There has been a significant decline in the incidence of re-election, and winning margins have reduced dramatically. Less time-consuming process happens.


Arguments that are in favour of Paper Ballot

Invariably come across reports of malfunctioning EVMs. Reliability of EVM lead to the trust issue where people want the previous system to be worked.  


Disadvantage and Issues related to there are problems of paper ballot.
o   Transporting them and guarding them is a problem.
o   Ballot boxes can be captured.
o   Ghost voters who did not exist voted for the parties.
o   Credibility as election frauds
o   Time consuming


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Conclusion

Indian EVM’s do not have electricity, or internet connectivity. The only thing which it has a chip, which is produced in a government own PSU.EVM can be tempered only when it is opened and replace the chip.

CHIPS can be replaced BUT ONLY IN LAB. However, the truth is that EVM chip can’t be replaced just like that as per election commissioner’s statement.

 Election commission finds it hard to maintain credibility, as controversy does not seem to die. Election commission even kept an open challenge but none came in front to temper with it. VVPAT should be installed, or more awareness campaign should be promoted by government. 







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