Can we count on the electronic voting machines?

France, Belgium, Ireland and The Netherlands did away with EVMs after experimenting with them. In Asia, Japan and Singapore, two of the most advanced nations in this continent, have stuck to traditional paper ballots. Recently, Bangladesh decided to dispense with EVMs.

Unlawful methods were allegedly employed in the 2000 and 2016 United States presidential elections to favour the winners. Though EVMs are not used in America, the US-based Verified Voting Foundation (VVF) published a resolution passed by over 1,000 experts across multiple countries, which recorded: ‘Election integrity cannot be assured without openness and transparency. But an election without voter-verifiable ballots (physical proof of voting) cannot be open and transparent.

‘The voter cannot know that the vote eventually reported is the same as the vote cast, nor can candidates or others gain confidence in the accuracy of the election by observing the voting and the vote counting processes.

‘There is no reliable way to detect errors in recording votes or deliberate election rigging with these machines. Hence, the results of any election conducted using these machines are open to question.’ 

In 2010, a BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP G.V.L. Narasimha Rao wrote a book titled Democracy at Risk! Can We Trust our Electronic Voting Machines? It was dedicated to the citizens of India, with an emphatic statement: ‘They deserve a fully transparent and verifiable electoral system.’ The foreword was by BJP stalwart L.K. Advani, former deputy prime minister of India and former party president.

Advani was BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, which the BJP lost. Advani wrote, ‘I regard it significant that Germany, technologically one of the most advanced countries… has become so wary of EVMs as to ban their use altogether.’

In the same book, David Dill, professor of computer science at Stanford University, stated: ‘Electronic voting machines provide no evidence during or after the election to convince a sceptic that the election results are accurate.’

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