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Credibility of Electronic Voting Machines :

1. The Election Commission has observed that after declaration of result of the recently held General Elections to the State Legislative Assemblies of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, some political parties have raised voice against the credibility of the ECI-EVMs, alleging tampering of EVMs during the said elections.

Related  : J & K Legislative Council Biennial Election 2017 Election Commission India :

One representation was received from National General Secretary, BSP without any specific allegation on 11.03.2017. ECI on 11.03.2017 itself has given detailed response to BSP rejecting the representation.

2. Such concerns, about alleged tamperability of ECI-EVM have been raised earlier also since their introduction including before HC/SC. These allegations have been dismissed. ECI unequivocally reiterate that given effective technical and administrative safeguards, EVMs are not temperable and integrity of electoral process is preserved.

3. It will be useful to once again recapture some facts on the subject for information of citizens and all concerned.

4. Background of EVM :
With a view to overcome certain problems associated with use of ballot papers and taking advantage of development of technology so that voters cast their votes correctly without any resultant ambiguity and removing the possibilities of invalid votes totally, the Commission in December, 1977 mooted the idea of EVM.

The law was amended by the Parliament in December, 1988 and a new section 61A was inserted in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 empowering the Commission to use voting machines. The amended provision came into force w.e.f.15th March, 1989.

Central Government appointed the Electoral Reforms Committee in January, 1990 consisting of representative of several recognized National and State Parties. The Electoral Reforms Committee further constituted a technical Expert Committee for the evaluation of the electronic voting machines.

The Committee came to conclusion that the electronic voting machine is a secure system.The expert committee, therefore, unanimously recommended in April, 1990 the use of the electronic voting machines without further loss of time.

5. Since 2000, EVMs have been used in 107 General Elections to State Legislative Assemblies and 3 General Elections to Lok Sabha held in 2004, 2009 & 2014.

6. Judicial Pronouncements on use of EVMs :
The issue of possible tampering of EVM has been raised before various High Courts since 2001 as mentioned below :
(a) Madras High Court-2001
(b) Delhi High Court-2004
(c) Karnataka High Court- 2004
(d) Kerala High Court-2002
(e) Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench)-2004

All the above High Courts after going into all aspects of the technological soundness and the administrative measures involved in the use of EVMs at elections in India, have held that the EVMs in India are credible, reliable and totally tamperproof.In some of these cases, even Supreme Court has dismissed appeals filed by some petitioners against High Court orders.

The Hon’ble Karnataka High Court held that “This invention is undoubtedly a great achievement in the electronic and computer technology and a national pride”. Both the Karnataka High Court and the Madras High Court observed that use of EVMs in election has several advantages over the system of ballot paper/ballot box election.

The Hon’ble Madras High Court also categorically ruled out any question of tampering of the EVMs.The following observations made by the Madras High Court may be taken note of.

“There is also no question of introducing any virus or bugs for the reason that the EVMs cannot be compared to personal computers.The programming in computers, as suggested, has no bearing with the EVMs.

The computer would have inherent limitations having connections through Internet and by their very design, they may allow the alteration of the programme but the EVMs are independent units and the programme in EVM is entirely a different system.”

In one of the cases, the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala in its order dated 6.2.2002 had recorded its appreciation on the efficiency of the mechanism.The judgment of the Kerala High Court in the said Election Petition was upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Civil Appeal (AIR 2003 SC 2271).

It is admitted before various courts that the data or technique brought in use in EVM in India were not subject to piracy as nobody knows anything about the contents of any type or has any unauthorized or free access to EVM.

Thereafter, the controversy was raised by political parties again after 2009 General Elections to House of People stating that EVMs were not fool proof and provide scope for manipulation. However, no specific allegation was raised nor could they prove before any court of law.

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