A court in Delhi on Tuesday declined to direct India’s Election Commission to have paper receipts of votes recorded on electronic voting machines (EVMs), or go back to ballot paper. The High Court of Delhi said that there may be security issues with EVMs, as pointed out by petitioner Subramanian Swamy, a prominent politician, and asked India’s Election Commission to resolve the issues in consultation with stakeholders including the country’s Parliament. Swamy had earlier argued that EVMs could be tampered with, a view he shares with a number of researchers and activists in the country. He said in a telephone interview that the Election Commission will now have to have to get into consultations with all concerned parties, including him, to resolve the security issues. “You can say that, de facto, I have won the case,” he added.
The Election Commission of India was not immediately available for comment. It called in December for elections over the next three months in five states where EVMs are to be used without a paper trail. Swamy predicted that there will be a paper trail by the time the country holds its next elections, but most probably it will go back to ballot papers, as some European countries have done, he said.
The Election Commission tested EVMs with a paper trail in mock elections last year, but there were some shortcomings found, said an official of the Election Commission who asked not to be named. The manufacturers of the EVMs have been asked to make improvements, and after an unsatisfactory demonstration in December, they will again demonstrate a modified machine in February, the official said. The decision of the court will not affect the Election Commission’s plans to test these devices for a paper trail, he added.