Last month, I joined millions of other Indians in voting in our national election, the biggest in history. Was I wrong to feel disappointed? After all, the ritual of the vote — with its emphasis on privacy, silence and secrecy; its underlying political associations of duty, virtue, community, even transcendence — is the one democratic event that resembles a religious experience. The only difference is that the voter is also, in a manner of speaking, the deity being propitiated, the vote being the offering that establishes his or her agency. So I went to the polling booth, a school in my neighborhood in New Delhi, with great expectations. On a sheet outside the polling booth was a list of all the candidates I could vote for: seven or eight from the established political parties, then a slew of independents. Inside, I stood in a line before a table, behind which sat some officials from the Election Commission — a force 11 million strong — to whom I presented my voter identification card to be checked off against the electoral rolls. This done, I moved on to the next step, which was to have the nail of my left forefinger daubed with a stroke of indelible black ink. (This quaint practice, designed to discourage impersonation or double-voting, has led to the mass posting of what’s now called the “election selfie.”)
Now things began to get confusing. The polling officer pressed a button on some device before him, and I was directed to a corner of the room, where, facing everybody in the classroom watching me, I stepped up to the touchscreen of an electronic voting machine.
Only a brief glimmer of a small red light and a long beep from the machine confirmed that I had just cast my vote. The experience felt curiously textureless and disconcerting, as if my vote had been swallowed up or garbled more than registered. Anonymity seemed to lapse into unverifiability, secrecy into mystery. All the words that had influenced my choice — the manifestos of the parties, the reportage in newspapers, the debates and arguments with friends — culminated in this language-free, ambiguous, momentary beep that went into the memory of some microchip. Collected in some safe house, their data aggregated in a few weeks, these chips will reveal who won the election, at the levels of both constituency and nation.
Full Article: Can India Get E-Voting Right? – Bloomberg View.