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EVMs may not be perfect but they are better than the ballot paper system

It’s a good move to invite experts to try and hack the EVMs and make them more secure than to scrap the system entirely

editorials Updated: Apr 13, 2017 17:58 IST
Electronic Voting Machine,Election Commission,EVM
It’s a good move to invite experts to try and hack the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and make them more secure than to scrap the system entirely(HT Photo)

The demand to abandon the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) is not new. After their electoral defeat in 2009, the BJP had called for the country to revert to paper ballots; and many political parties had supported this demand then. This issue has made a comeback after the results of the assembly elections held in five states earlier this year. This time the call for paper ballots comes from the other side of the political spectrum, with the Congress and AAP leading the charge.

To say that EVMs are absolutely and completely tamper-proof may not be entirely accurate, but they have saved the country millions by reducing the amount of manpower needed in the old system. Since no conclusive evidence of large-scale EVM tampering that may have affected election results has yet been found, opposition to the machines are based on assumptions alone. After interventions by the courts, EVMs are now being made to contain a voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT). In this system, voters are shown a printed paper receipt of the vote cast inside a glass, but one that cannot be taken out of the machine. This is a good attempt to make the system harder to tamper with.

As the Congress’ own Veerappa Moily has pointed out, it would not be a progressive step to go back to the possibility of ink thrown in ballot boxes, ballot stuffing and invalid votes in which it is impossible to figure out which candidate’s name has been stamped. To have thousands of government employees locked up in rooms for days on end while counting votes; employ large battalions of security personnel to ensure the safe transport of several thousand ballot boxes; and to go back to a process that was far less efficient than the present system would be a retrograde step. The Election Commission’s move inviting experts, technocrats, and scientists to try and hack the systems is a welcome one; and hopefully, it will throw up more ways in which the machines can be made better and more efficient.

First Published: Apr 13, 2017 17:30 IST