TBA Opinion

TBA Explainer: How to have tamper-proof Elections in Indian States? 

Election fraud is a serious threat to democracy and the credibility of the electoral process. It can undermine public trust and confidence in the legitimacy of the elected representatives and the government. Therefore, it is imperative that the Election Commission of India (ECI) takes all necessary measures to ensure that there is no fraud in state elections.

One of the ways to prevent election fraud is to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) instead of paper ballots. EVMs are devices that record and store the votes electronically, without any physical. Or manual intervention. they have several advantages over paper ballots, such as:

They are faster, easier and cheaper to use and count.

They eliminate the possibility of invalid or spoiled votes, as well as human errors or manipulation in counting.

They reduce the chances of booth capturing, ballot stuffing, impersonation or proxy voting.

They provide a verifiable paper trail (VVPAT) that can be used for audit and recount purposes.

However, EVMs are not foolproof and can also be vulnerable to fraud or tampering. 

Risks or challenges with EVMs are:

They can be hacked or manipulated by malicious actors, either remotely or physically, to alter the vote data or software.

They can malfunction or fail due to technical glitches, power outages, battery issues or environmental factors.

They can be stolen, damaged or destroyed by anti-social elements or political opponents.

They can be misused or abused by unauthorised or untrained personnel, such as polling agents, voters or officials.

With Elections around the corner in many states across India this year, how can the Election Commission ensure fair and just elections to ensure that Electronic Voting Machines are tamper-proof.

The Better Andhra explores some fool-proof measures: 

Procuring EVMs from certified and trusted manufacturers and vendors, and conducting regular inspections and audits of their quality and performance.

Sealing and storing EVMs in secure and guarded locations, and transporting them under escort and surveillance to and from the polling stations.

Randomising and allocating EVMs to different constituencies and polling stations, and ensuring that they are not reused or interchanged.

Testing and checking EVMs before and after each election, and replacing any faulty or suspicious ones.

Training and sensitizing polling staff, agents, observers and voters on how to use and handle EVMs properly and safely.

Installing CCTV cameras, biometric devices, GPS trackers and other security features on EVMs and at polling stations.

Enabling public scrutiny and transparency of EVMs by allowing candidates, parties, media and civil society to observe their functioning and verification.

Conducting random sampling and auditing of EVMs and VVPAT slips by independent experts or agencies to verify their accuracy and integrity.

By adopting these measures, the ECI can ensure that there is no fraud in state elections through EVMs. However, these measures are not sufficient by themselves. the ECI also needs to foster a culture of trust, awareness and participation among all stakeholders involved in the electoral process. 

the ECI should educate and inform the public about the benefits and challenges of EVMs, and address any doubts or grievances they may have. the ECI should also encourage and facilitate civic engagement and oversight of the elections by involving civil society organizations, media outlets, academic institutions and other independent bodies. 

The ECI should also cooperate and coordinate with other. Authorities, such as the police, judiciary, government agencies and political parties, to ensure a free, fair and peaceful conduct of elections.

Ultimately, preventing election fraud or duplicate voting through EVMs. Is not only a technical or administrative issue, but also a social and political one. It requires a collective effort and responsibility from all stakeholders to uphold the sanctity and integrity of democracy in India.

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Tejaswini Pagadala

Communications Consultant: TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.
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