It’s not fair to impose electronic voting machines as a substitute for paper ballots because there’s no way voters can verify which way their vote went. The Election Commission may have won the legal battle vis-à-vis the efficacy of electronic voting machines in view of the recent judgement of the Delhi High Court, but it has a lot of work to do if it wishes to remove the prevailing scepticism about these machines. Though Justice AK Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, who heard Mr Subramanian Swamy’s petition, said they could not issue a mandamus directing the Election Commission to introduce the system of paper trail, they had advised it to take note of the apprehensions that EVMs may be vulnerable to fraud and that there could be security issues.
The issue of vulnerability of electronic voting machines to fraud gained prominence two years ago when several international experts who had campaigned against EVMs in Europe and the US visited India and shared their experiences with Indian activists. Among these experts was Mr Rop Gonggrijp, a computer hacker from the Netherlands, who successfully campaigned against the use of EVMs in his country, and Mr Till Jaeger, the attorney, who succeeded in getting the German Federal Constitutional Court to prohibit the use of these machines. Thereafter, this campaign gained ground when Mr Hari Prasad, an Indian activist, demonstrated how EVMs could be hacked. Mr Subramanian Swamy petitioned the Delhi High Court following these developments.
The central argument of Mr Gonggrijp, Mr Hari Prasad and others is that transparency is hit when the vote-count happens inside a machine and there is no way in which the result can be cross-checked. This view found acceptance in the German Federal Constitutional Court which emphasised that all essential steps in an election should be open to public scrutiny.
Full Article: Need for a paper trail.