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Status Paper On EVM :

** India is the largest Participatory Democracy of the world, with about 850 million registered voters.

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The Constitutional mandate of superintendence, direction and control of Elections to the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies has been conferred on the Election Commission of India.

** The Election Commission of India is an independent Constitutional entity, which has successfully conducted regular elections to the Parliament and various State Legislative Assemblies for the past 66 years in a free, fair, participative, informed and credible manner.

The Commission is widely acknowledged as a ‘’Global Gold Standard’’ in Election Management across the World, setting ever-higher standards of efficient and professional conduct of Elections.

** The Commission has been at the forefront of embracing, adopting and implementing the latest technological advancements in improving and fine-tuning the election processes and systems.

The Commission has taken the pioneering initiative of introducing Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) for recording, storing and counting of votes across the length and breadth of the Country in a transparent, credible and secure manner, backed by appropriate legal support.

The use of EVM demonstrates the Commission’s unflinching resolve to continually improve, upgrade and strengthen the Electoral Process in the country.

** The Commission has successfully used EVMs in conducting 107 General Elections to the State Legislative Assemblies and 3 Lok Sabha Elections over the last 23 years. The List of States, along with the years in which 100% EVMs were used in the Assembly Elections is placed at ANNEXURE – 1.

** 55.41 crore (554 million) voters exercised their franchise in 2014 Lok Sabha elections using EVMs.

** Since the very inception of the EVMs in 1982, as a positive electoral reform on the electoral scene in India, blames and aspersions have been cast on the EVMs from various quarters including political.

Recently, after the announcement of the results of the five State Assembly Elections in March 2017, again certain allegations have been leveled against the EVMs. A group of thirteen political parties met the Commission on 10 April 2017 and expressed certain reservations about the use of EVMs.

Electronic Voting Machines in India :
** It needs to be emphasized that the wide range of technical security, administrative protocols and procedural safeguards mandated by the Commission robustly ensures the integrity, non-tamperability and credibility of the EVMs.

The stringent procedures and well-defined poll processes prescribed by the Commission protect the EVMs against any sort of manipulation.

** It is also significant to highlight that the Commission is committed to the 100% coverage of VVPATs in all future elections to the Parliament and State Assembly Elections.

The requisite funds for the procurement of adequate number of VVPATs and latest generation (M3) EVMs have been sanctioned by the Government and machines are expected to be manufactured and delivered by BEL and ECIL to the ECI by September 2018 as committed by the manufacturers.

** At the present juncture, when EVMs are once again encumbered with yet another debate on its efficacy and robustness, it is imperative to hold consultations with stakeholders.

EVM Safety and Security Features :
** The machines are non-tamperable, both due to technological measures, and also due to strict administrative and security procedures laid out by ECI, whereby no access to EVM/VVPAT is allowed to any unauthorized person.

Hence, these are protected from any tampering/manipulation whether before the polls, or during the polls, or after the polls, in storage or transportation from manufacturer to the State/District or vice versa, or when transported from one state to another.

** Technological safeguards that contribute to non-tamperability of EVM are the following.
i. EVM used by the Commission is a stand-alone non-networked, one time programmable (OTP) machine, which is neither computer controlled, nor connected to the internet or any network; and hence, cannot be ‘Hacked’.

ii. The machine is electronically protected to prevent any tampering/manipulation. The programme (software) used in these machines is burnt into a One Time Programmable (OTP)/Masked chip so that it cannot be altered or tampered with.

iii. The software of EVMs is developed in-house by a selected group of Engineers in BEL (Defence Ministry PSU) and ECIL (Atomic Energy Ministry’s PSU) independently from each other.

iv. After completion of software design, testing and evaluation of the software is carried out by an Independent Testing Group as per the software requirements specifications (SRS). This ensures that the software has really been written as per the requirements laid down for its intended use only.

v. After successful completion of such evaluation, machine code is given to the micro controller manufacturer for writing in the micro controllers. From this machine code, the source code cannot be read. Source code is never handed over to anyone outside the software group of PSUs.

vi. Micro controller manufacturer initially provides engineering samples to PSUs for evaluation. These samples are assembled into the EVM, evaluated and verified for functionality at great length.

Bulk production clearance by PSU is given to micro controller manufacturer only after successful completion of this verification.

vii. The source code for the EVM is stored under controlled conditions at all times. Checks and balances are in place to ensure that it is accessible to authorized personnel only.

viii. During production in the factory, functional testing is done by production group as per the laid down Quality plan and performance test procedures.

ix. The software is so designed that it allows a voter to cast the vote only once. The vote can be recorded by a voter from the ballot unit only after the Presiding Officer enables the ballot on the Control Unit. The machine does not receive any signal from outside at any time.

The next vote can be recorded only after the Presiding Officer enables the ballot on the Control Unit. In between, the machine becomes dead to any signal from outside (except from the Control Unit).

x. Samples of EVMs from production batches are regularly checked for functionality by Quality Assurance Group, which is an independent unit within the PSUs.

xi. Certain additional features were introduced in M2 generation of EVMs (Post-2006) such as dynamic coding between Ballot Unit (BU) and Control Unit (CU), installation of real time clock, installation of full display system and date and time stamping of key-pressing in EVM.

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