Political leaders who lost the recent state elections – Mayawati and Harish Rawat among them have alleged the electronic voting machines were tampered with. Arvind Kejriwal too questioned the use of the electronic method of gathering votes. Now, Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi also seem to be indulging in the theory. Is there a possibility of rigging electoral outcomes in a general election to the Lok Sabha? This question has arisen not only because of the unexpected number of seats won or lost by some parties in the recent contest. It is accentuated by the recent news from many western nations doubting the integrity of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and bringing back the ‘old-fashioned ballot system’. Let’s look at the situation from a different angle. What is our idea of democracy based on? (1) Free and fair elections (2) Equal voting rights (3) Right to represent ourselves. Well, these and others would only stand straight if the vote gathering process is transparent enough for the citizens to believe in it.
As digital consumers and users, we are not unwilling to accept this security risk in banking, shopping, and e-mailing, but we do understand that sanctity of the ballot box is sacred. It needs to be perfectly safeguarded because of the monumental consequence of a rigged or faulty vote recording.
Hence, a backlash against e-voting is brewing across the Europe and Western countries. Especially in US and Germany, though there are ways to avoid the fraud such as: (1) It can print a physical copy of each vote cast but it would defeat the whole purpose of saving time and effort through the electronic means. (2) To expose the EVMs and software to public scrutiny, but that would hurt the trade secrets of the software market leaders.
The electronic voting machines are easy to carry around and count votes on. However, various incidences all over the world prove that fraud and manipulations in the number of votes received by a candidate as well as hacking of the remote EVMs have been registered in the past and continue to be a major threat for this technological advance.