Monday, August 24, 2009

Is My Vote Counted?

Long time back, I watched Man of the Year starring Robin Williams. Robin plays a TV host who decides to stand for Presidency and gets elected. As the plot unfolds, an employee with Delacroy, which manufactures the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and the software, suspects that Robin may not be the real winner as there might be some defects in the software.

Do watch the movie as to how it ends.

I liked the plot and movie. Didn't think too much after that.

EVMs were introduced in India first in 1999 election. It was a welcome relief for many. First of all, trees won't be cut to decide who will hold power in centre and states. It definitely puts India in the league of advanced democracies in the world. Most importantly, the booth capturing, snatching of ballot papers and other ghastly acts could come down.

Then, suddenly, after this General Elections for the first time, some parties have called for reverting to ballot papers than the buttons. They have raised concerns that EVMs can be "doctored/tampered".

A very serious statement having enormous implications. Imagine, your vote cast of a particular candidate actually falling into another's account. Imagine a party which was not supposed to win, gets the mandate to rule. I am not sure if this has happened. A search on the net reveals many reports on issues and problems with EVMs.

Does this mean that EVMs need to be phased out and Democracies go back to paper-based polling?

I think not.

First of all, the problem lies with human beings not machines. Two, tampering can happen even with papers. And of course the ghastly acts of vandalism which I mentioned above.

I think the opposition parties that have made allegations against the use of EVMs should provide their case. This can be used by Election Commission to ensure the holes are filled in.

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