Poll panel to introduce tamper-proof, next-gen EVMs in Karnataka election
The Election Commission (EC) is planning to debut the third-generation of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the upcoming Karnataka assembly elections.
The so-called tamper-proof Mark 3 EVMs have been manufactured by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), both government-held companies and comprise a host of new features such as self-diagnostics to rectify any software faults, and digital signatures for the control and ballot units to protect the machine from any tampering.
The poll panel’s decision comes after months of allegations by several opposition parties — including the Congress — of tampering and hacking of EVMs, a charge rubbished by the EC and the government.
No party has been able to substantiate the charge of EVM tampering.
The Mark 3 EVMs will be used across 1,800 polling stations in seven assembly constituencies in Bengaluru (RR Nagar, Chamarajpet, Chickpet, Shivajinagar, Shantinagar, Gandhi Nagar and Rajaji Nagar. In these constituencies, 2,700 ballot units, 2,250 control units and 2,350 Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail systems (VVPAT) will be used.
The Mark 3 control unit can accommodate 24 ballot units, with 384 candidates, as opposed to the Mark 2 control unit, which could accommodate only four ballot units and 64 candidates. The microcontroller chip in the new Mark 3 EVM’s can be programmed only once.
The software code on the chip cannot be read or rewritten. The EVMs also cannot be controlled through the internet or any other network.
The poll panel says any fear of a virus attack on the system is also eliminated as no operating system is used in the machine’s functioning.
Moreover, the Mark 3 machines also show the exact battery level, while the older model only said high, medium or low for battery status.
The EC plans to use the third-generation machines widely in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and this trial is being held during the assembly elections because the new generations of EVMs have been manufactured in Bengaluru.
The control unit and ballot unit can only accept software and components manufactured by ECIL and BEL.
The Mark 3 machines also cut down on human resource requirement as only four people are required to operate the device, whereas the other machine required five people.
This is because the ballot unit, control unit and the VVPAT identify each other automatically and do not require human intervention.