India, being the world's largest democracy, conducts massive electoral exercises
that involve millions of voters and numerous political parties. The introduction
of EVMs in the Indian electoral system aimed to streamline the voting process,
eliminate manual errors, reduce the time taken for counting votes, and enhance
the overall efficiency of elections. However, the adoption of electronic voting
has not been without its challenges and controversies, raising questions about
its political effects and implications. The evolution of electronic voting in
India serves as a backdrop for understanding its political effects.
discusses the introduction and adoption of EVMs, highlighting their key features
and functioning. It also examines the challenges faced during the implementation
process and the subsequent improvements made to address these concerns. This
contextual understanding sets the stage for a deeper exploration of the
political implications of electronic voting.
One significant area of study is
the impact of electronic voting on electoral processes and efficiency. By analysing voting time, logistics, and the reduction of human errors and counting
time, the research examines how EVMs have streamlined the electoral process,
providing insights into the efficiency gains achieved through electronic voting
Electronic Voting Machine
Electronic Voting Machine also known as EVM is an electronic machine that is
used for voting to either aid or take care of the chores of casting and counting
An EVM is designed by the two units:
- The Control Unit
- The Balloting Unit
The control unit of EVM is kept with the presiding officer or the polling
officer on the other hand the balloting unit is kept within the voting
compartment for electors to cast their votes.
This is done to ensure that the polling officers verify your identity. With the
EVM instead of issuing a ballot paper, the polling officer will press the Ballot
button which enables the voter to cast their vote. A list of candidate's names
with symbols will be available on the machine with a blue button next to it. The
voter can press the button next to the candidate's name they wish to vote for.
Evolution Of Electronic Voting In India
The evolution of electronic voting in India marks a significant milestone in the
country's electoral history. The adoption and implementation of electronic
voting machines (EVMs) have revolutionized the electoral process, introducing
technological advancements that aim to streamline voting procedures and enhance
the integrity of elections.
The introduction of EVMs in India can be traced back
to the 1980s when the Election Commission of India (ECI) initiated efforts to
explore alternative voting methods. The first experimental use of EVMs took
place in 1982 in a by-election in Kerala. The successful trial paved the way for
the gradual implementation of electronic voting across the country.
In India, the evolution of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) has been a
significant part of electoral reforms aimed at improving the efficiency,
transparency, and integrity of the voting process.
Here's a timeline of the
evolution of EVMs in India:
- Introduction of EVMs (1982):
The Election Commission of India (ECI) first introduced EVMs in a limited capacity for experimental purposes in 1982. These early EVMs were developed by the state-owned Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).
- Pilot Projects (1998-2000):
EVMs were tested in select constituencies during the 1998 by-elections and subsequently in the 1999 general elections. These pilot projects were conducted to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of EVMs in Indian elections.
- Widespread Adoption (2004):
Based on the success of the pilot projects, the ECI decided to adopt EVMs nationwide for all parliamentary and assembly elections starting from the 2004 general elections. This marked a significant milestone in the use of EVMs in Indian elections.
- VVPAT Introduction (2013):
To enhance transparency and provide a verifiable paper trail, the Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system was introduced in 2013. Under this system, a paper slip containing the selected candidate's name, symbol, and serial number is printed and displayed to the voter for verification. The slip is then deposited in a sealed box, which can be used for auditing or manual recounting if necessary.
- Security Enhancements:
EVMs used in India have undergone continuous security enhancements to ensure the integrity of the voting process. This includes the use of tamper-proof designs, encryption techniques to secure data, and strict protocols for the storage and transportation of EVMs.
- Accessibility Features:
EVMs in India have been modified to include accessibility features for voters with disabilities. Braille labels, tactile interfaces, and audio ballots have been introduced to enable visually impaired voters to cast their votes independently.
- Technological Upgrades:
Over the years, EVMs in India have witnessed technological upgrades to improve their performance and functionality. This includes the use of advanced microcontrollers, better display screens, and improved battery life. The ECI has also explored the use of wireless communication and real-time result transmission in certain elections to expedite the counting process.
- Continuous Evaluation:
The ECI regularly evaluates the performance of EVMs and takes feedback from political parties, experts, and the public. Mock polls, training programs, and awareness campaigns are conducted to familiarize voters and election officials with the functioning of EVMs.
It's important to note that the ECI takes measures to address concerns raised by
stakeholders regarding the use of EVMs. Public demonstrations, mock polls, and
transparency initiatives have been undertaken to build trust in the EVMs and the
electoral process as a whole.
Advantages Of Evm In E-Democracy.
- Enhancing the Credibility of the Electoral Process:
One of the primary
objectives of electronic voting is to enhance the credibility of the electoral
process by minimizing human errors, reducing the scope for manipulation, and
providing accurate and reliable results. EVMs eliminate the possibility of
invalid or improperly marked ballots, as they only allow voters to cast valid
votes within the predefined options. This reduces the likelihood of disputes and
challenges to the legitimacy of election outcomes. Additionally, EVMs provide a
built-in electronic audit trail, which allows for the verification and
reconciliation of votes. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has implemented
the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, which generates a printed
paper receipt displaying the voter's choices. This receipt can be reviewed by
the voter to ensure accuracy before being securely stored for potential audits
or recounts. The introduction of VVPAT adds an additional layer of transparency
and allows for independent verification of electronic voting results.
- Reduction in Electoral Fraud and Malpractices:
Electronic voting has been instrumental in reducing electoral fraud and
malpractices that were more prevalent in traditional paper-based voting
systems. EVMs significantly minimize
the scope for ballot stuffing, booth capturing, and manipulation of vote counts
during the counting process. The use of technology in voting and tabulation
reduces human intervention, thereby reducing the opportunities for tampering or
unauthorized manipulation of votes. Moreover, EVMs employ encryption and secure
data transmission protocols to ensure the integrity of the voting process. The
storage and transmission of votes electronically, coupled with stringent
security measures, make it difficult for unauthorized parties to interfere with
the voting data. This helps safeguard the sanctity of the electoral process and
maintains public trust in the integrity of the results.
- Accuracy and Fairness in Results:
Electronic voting has the potential to provide accurate and fair election
results by minimizing errors and biases. EVMs
eliminate the manual counting of votes, reducing the chances of errors and
discrepancies that can occur during the traditional tabulation process. The use
of electronic systems ensures consistent and accurate vote counting, thereby
reducing the likelihood of miscounts or misinterpretations. Additionally, EVMs
contribute to fairness in elections by providing equal opportunities for all
candidates and political parties. By eliminating the possibility of ballot box
tampering or manipulation, electronic voting systems create a level playing
field and promote fair competition. Each vote is treated equally, regardless of
the voter's social status, gender, or background, ensuring a more equitable
- Enhancing Trust in the Electoral Process:
Electronic voting systems, such as EVMs, aim to enhance trust in the electoral process by ensuring accuracy,
transparency, and fairness. The use of technology reduces the scope for human
errors and manipulation, creating a perception of increased reliability and
credibility. The elimination of manual counting and the introduction of
tamper-proof security measures in EVMs provide assurance to voters that their
votes will be accurately recorded and counted. Furthermore, the implementation
of measures like the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system has
contributed to increased trust in electronic voting. The ability of voters to
independently verify their votes through printed receipts creates a sense of
transparency and accountability. VVPAT has been instrumental in building
confidence among voters, political parties, and other stakeholders by allowing
for the auditing and verification of electronic voting results.
Challenges With Electronic Voting Machine
The adoption of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in India has not been without
its share of challenges and controversies. While electronic voting systems offer
various benefits, they have also faced criticism and raised concerns among
Understanding these challenges and controversies is essential to address them
and ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the electoral process.
Case Study: EVM Controversy in India's 2019 General Elections
- Security Concerns:
One of the primary challenges associated with electronic voting is the issue
of security. Critics argue that EVMs may be vulnerable to hacking or
tampering, potentially compromising the accuracy and integrity of the voting
process. Concerns have been raised regarding the security of the hardware,
software, and transmission of data associated with EVMs. To address these
concerns, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has implemented security
measures such as tamper-proof seals, stringent storage protocols, and
encryption techniques. Independent audits and regular testing of EVMs are
conducted to identify and rectify any vulnerabilities. However, ongoing
scrutiny and continuous improvement in security practices are essential to
mitigate potential risks and maintain public trust.
- Lack of Voter Confidence:
Controversies surrounding electronic voting have sometimes resulted in a
lack of confidence among voters. Various factors contribute to this lack of
confidence, including misinformation, doubts about the reliability of EVMs,
and concerns about the transparency of the voting process. Instances of
malfunctioning machines, allegations of tampering, or doubts about the
accuracy of results can undermine public trust in the electoral system.
Addressing these challenges requires proactive efforts from the Election
Commission and other stakeholders. Public awareness campaigns, transparency
in the functioning of EVMs, and increased opportunities for public scrutiny
can help build voter confidence. Engaging with experts, civil society
organizations, and political parties in dialogue and consultations can
foster trust and address concerns effectively.
- Accessibility and Inclusivity:
While electronic voting has the potential to enhance accessibility and
inclusivity, challenges remain in ensuring equitable access for all
citizens. The digital divide, limited technology infrastructure in certain
areas, and lack of digital literacy can exclude certain segments of society
from participating in electronic voting. This raises concerns about
disenfranchisement and unequal access to the democratic process. Efforts
must be made to bridge the digital divide and provide adequate
infrastructure and training to ensure equitable access to electronic voting.
The Election Commission should collaborate with relevant authorities to
ensure that remote and underserved areas have the necessary technology and
connectivity. Moreover, promoting digital literacy and conducting outreach
programs can empower citizens to engage in the electronic voting process
- Lack of Paper Trail and Auditability:
One area of controversy surrounding electronic voting is the lack of a
verifiable paper trail in certain instances. While EVMs with Voter
Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) systems provide a printed receipt for
voters to verify their choices, concerns have been raised about the scope
and reliability of the paper trail. Some argue for the implementation of
mandatory paper ballots alongside electronic voting to ensure a robust audit
trail and enhance transparency. Balancing the advantages of electronic
voting, such as efficiency and speed, with the need for a verifiable paper
trail is an ongoing challenge. Striking the right balance to ensure
transparency while leveraging the benefits of electronic voting requires
careful deliberation and continuous improvements in technology and
The general elections in India are the largest democratic exercise in the world,
and EVMs have been used extensively since 2004. However, during the 2019 general
elections, the use of EVMs became a subject of intense debate and controversy.
Several opposition parties, most notably the Indian National Congress (INC) and
several regional parties, raised concerns about the reliability and integrity of
EVMs. They alleged that the EVMs could be tampered with or manipulated, leading
to doubts about the accuracy of the election results. These parties claimed that
the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) was exploiting the EVMs to gain an unfair
Demand for Paper Ballot Verification:
Opposition parties demanded the reintroduction of paper ballots as an
alternative to EVMs, arguing that the traditional system provided more
transparency and verifiability. They emphasized the need for a Voter-Verifiable
Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) for every EVM, where a printed paper slip would be
verified by the voter before being deposited in a secure box. The opposition
parties believed that VVPATs would enhance confidence in the electoral process.
Election Commission's Response:
The Election Commission of India (ECI), responsible for conducting elections,
vehemently defended the integrity of EVMs and refuted the allegations of
tampering. The ECI highlighted the multiple layers of security, including strict
protocols for the storage, transportation, and sealing of EVMs, as well as the
presence of election officials and political party representatives during the
entire process. The ECI maintained that EVMs were robust, secure, and
Supreme Court Intervention:
The controversy eventually reached the Supreme Court of India. The court
directed the ECI to increase the random matching of VVPAT slips with EVM results
from one booth per constituency to five. This move was seen as an attempt to
address concerns and instill more confidence in the electoral process. The court
also dismissed petitions challenging the use of EVMs and upheld their legality.
Outcome and Impact:
The 2019 general elections proceeded with the use of EVMs, and the BJP emerged
as the victorious party, winning a significant majority. The controversy
surrounding EVMs gradually subsided after the elections, although some political
parties and activists continued to express reservations about their reliability.
Electronic voting in India has faced challenges and controversies related to
security concerns, lack of voter confidence, accessibility and inclusivity, and
the need for a robust audit trail. Addressing these challenges requires a
multi-faceted approach, including stringent security measures, transparent
processes, public awareness campaigns, and efforts to bridge the digital divide.
Continuous engagement with stakeholders, openness to dialogue, and incorporating
feedback are vital to address concerns and ensure a trustworthy and inclusive
electoral system. While challenges and controversies persist, proactive efforts
from policymakers, in collaboration with stakeholders, can address these issues
and shape a future where electronic voting continues to strengthen democracy and
uphold the principles of fair and free elections in India.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Garvita Garg
Authentication No: JU318133473683-30-0623