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Indian EVMs the best, secure and robust harbingers of free and fair elections

All of a sudden this month the nifty Indian invention, the unique electronic voting machines that were hailed to be the harbingers of free and fair elections in India, are being made out to be the villains of the piece.

So have the machines suddenly become fallible and has anybody ever hacked into them? The machines are the same and nobody has ever hacked them, the problem could lie elsewhere in depleting political values.

The independent Election Commission of India (ECI) says “it completely reaffirms its faith in the infallibility of the EVMs+ these are fully tramper-proof as ever”. It adds “baseless, speculative and wild allegations are being made which deserve to be rejected”.

There is an old saying the “winner takes it all and the loser cries foul”! The stunning results in the last round of Assembly elections has made many of the losers of the polls cry foul that it is the technology that failed them and not that their poll promises were rejected by the people.

According to the ECI, till date 107 elections to states and three parliamentary polls have been smoothly conducted using the EVMs. In the 2014 elections to the Parliament, a million units of these special electronic devices that are really fool proof machines were used and all hailed the verdict as being fair.

Not many countries can boast of electronic voting, even the world’s oldest democracy the United States of America still often resorts to paper ballots. Recall the fracas that was created in 2000 when vice-president Al Gore lost his presidential challenge to George W Bush all thanks to what was called the “hanging chads” as the USA had used paper ballots.

 The Indian electronic voting machine is a stand-alone battery powered robust white coloured device very similar in performance to a very basic calculator.

The size of standard key board but a little thicker, they come in three variants, the generation 1 machines are all but discarded and today mostly generation 2 and generation 3 machines are being used. The latter two generations employ sophisticated encryption technology to handle the data.

 Only a handful of countries are using electronic voting. According data from the non-profit National Democratic Institute, Washington DC about a dozen countries have used remote Internet voting for binding political elections or referenda that includes Canada, Estonia, France and Switzerland.


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