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Updated: February 16, 2010 19:53 IST

EVM’s credibility questioned

Urvashi Sarkar
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File picture of election duty officials with the EVMs in Thanjavur.Photo: M. Srinath
The Hindu File picture of election duty officials with the EVMs in Thanjavur.Photo: M. Srinath

Though electronic voting machines were used in the general elections in the country in 2004 and 2009, there were many complaints and allegations regarding their use, Save Indian Democracy member Satya Dosapati said here on Tuesday.

“The problems associated with EVMs are not unique to India, other countries such as the United States and Europe too have experienced them. Therefore many countries are now reconsidering the use of EVMs,” he added.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Dosapati said there was need for a debate on the merits and demerits of the use of EVMs and the paper ballot system.

He referred to a letter written by Stanford University professor Dr. David Dill to the Chief Election Commissioner of India. The letter states that paper ballots contributed to election credibility since voters could ensure that their votes had been properly recorded when they wrote them on the ballot and poll workers and observers at the venue could ensure that ballots were not changed, added or removed after being deposited in the ballot box.

On the other hand EVMs did not allow voters to verify that their votes had been accurately recorded or allow observers to witness that the ballots had not been tampered with. EVMs provided no evidence during or after the elections to convince sceptics that the election results were accurate, the letter said.

Mentioning instances of countries which had banned EVMs for elections, Mr. Dosapati said: “The German Supreme Court has banned EVMs while the Netherlands too has banned them despite spending millions of dollars to operate them. About 21 States in the US have paper-backed elections.”

He also cited an Indian organisation Voter Watch which claimed that EVMs could be tampered with.

Speaking about why Germany decided to discontinue with EVMs, attorney Dr. Till Jaeger said: “EVMs which were in use in Germany since 1998 were banned by a Supreme Court order in 2009. The use of EVMs was considered unconstitutional as long as there was no paper-based proof to show voting activity.”

“The election process should be public and verifiable. There is a lack of public control in using these machines,” Dr. Jaeger added, saying that there was no way of finding out what happened to one’s vote once it was registered by the machine.

“One cannot see if the machine is tampered with. In the paper ballot system, some observation is possible. If ballot boxes are stuffed, one can at least see it happening. The use of EVMs may seem efficient but is still not justifiable.” he said.

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