Electronic Voting Machines And Indian Politicians
India is one of the largest democracies in the world.In the 2009 General Elections more than 600 million people casted their votes.Conducting such a huge election is really a tough task.The task became more tougher when the ballot paper system was in force. Just to reduce the burden of conducting election the Election Commission of India introduced the Electronic Voting Machine from the year 1989. EVM was experimentally used at Kerala for a Bye election in the year 1989. Eventhough the voters welcomed the EVMs , the defeated candidate filed a suit against the usage of the EVM in that Election. The Court set aside the election result saying that there is no provision in the Indian Electoral Act for the usage of EVMs.Hence suitable amendments were introduced to implement for using EVMs. As per the directions of the Supreme Court a Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr Indresan, formerly Director of IIT, Chennai was also formed to verify the genuiness of EVMs. The Committee gave a clean chit and thereafter EVMs are being used in elections.
But EVM has its opposition too.Ms. Jayalalitha, General Secretary, AIADMK ,Tamilnadu was the first person to object the usage of EVMS in the Assembly Elections in the year 2001. But in that election, AIADMK and its partner Indian National Congress won and Ms. Jayalalitha became the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu. After the elections she didn’t make any complaints against EVMs. Before 2004, General elections to Parliament too she didn’t make any objection to the usage of EVMs. But due to the mishandling of some key issues like Govt Employees Strike and the manner she forced electoral alliances , AIADMK and its partners met with a huge defeat. During the same election, in Northern India all the political parties did well in some parts and routed out in some parts. Hence they didn’t raise any objection for the usage of EVMs in that election. In 2006 Assembly elections, Ms Jayalalithas party was defeated and from thereon she renewed her attack on the usage of EVMs. But then also her allied party BJP didn’t make any objection to EVMs, because in Gujarat , the party won an absolute majority and Mr Narendra Modi became the Chief Minister.
But in the General elections 2009, the BJP , AIADMK and the Communist Parties were defeated even in their strongholds. Now all the opposition parties are raising voices against EVMs. But this is not new to Indian Politics. Even while the ballot paper method in force, such wild allegations were made. In 1971, General Elections Mrs. Indira Gandhi was elected to power with a thumbing majority, due to her effective handling of Bangaladesh issue. But the opposition parties could not digest this and began to throw wild allegations. One of the opposition leader Mr. Balraj Madhok, even wrote a book in this regard titled “Murder of Democracy”. In this book it was alleged that the victory of Mrs Gandhi was only because of the “magical ink” imported from USSR, all time friend of Mrs. Gandhi, to manipulate the elections. But in the next elections, the Indian National Congress headed by Mr. Gandhi was thrown out of power and Mrs Gandhi and her son Mr Sanjay Gandhi were defeated in their own constituencies. Then the opposition celebrated the defeat but didn’t explain why Mrs Gandhi didn’t import the magical ink this time. I am not writing all this to support the EVMs as I am not at all a technician, but to expose the attitude of Indian politicians.They will support EVM, if they won and oppose it if they loose.
The Indian EVMs were tested in the Michigan University , USA. In their report it was said that the Indian EVMs could not be claimed as tamperproof. By replacing the original display with a fraudulent display the results may be manipulated and by inserting a microprocessor between the circuit, the result may be manipulated from outside using a mobile phone. Any individual machine can be tampered if there is no physical security. Those who know the electoral system in India will definitely accept that replacing the display and inserting a microprocessor in two lakh machines is not at all possible. As Dr. T.N Sheshan, the former Election Commissioner of India correctly pointed out that if at all an EVM has to be tampered atleast 1000 persons should cooperate. EVM made the Indian Elections very simple and any defect found, it should be rectified and not destroyed.