India, the largest democracy in the world, relies a lot on the fair and true voting process. The elections in India are conducted by the Election Commission of India, which is an autonomous constitutional authority. From the first general elections ECI is doing their job with honesty, still, there were times, when allegations of unfair and biased elections, were made against ECI. In the process to conduct a fair election, ECI has always worked on upgrading the voting process, from paper ballots to electronic voting machine (E.V.M), and now there are talks about online voting too.
Balloting system and Marking system
The first General elections of independent India took place in 1951, it was conducted through a Balloting system, each candidate was allotted a separate ballot box, and a pre-printed ballot paper was provided to the voters, the voters were required to put the paper in the candidate’s ballot box of their choice. This process was replaced in 1962 with the marking system, each voter was provided with a preprinted ballot paper, with the names and election symbols of every candidate, and the voter has to mark the candidate of his/her choice, and put the paper in the ballot box, a common ballot box was used for this process.
There was a lot of problems with balloting system, the paper ballots can easily tamper, the vote counting can be influenced, at some places the polling booths were captured, and the ballot box was replaced. Every year ECI tried their best to conduct the fair election, with the help of the army, BSF and local police but paper ballots were still not trustworthy.
Electronic Voting Machine
Electronic Voting Machine, in India, was first used in 1989 on a pilot basis, but it was only in 1998-9, it was used extensively and in 2014 general elections EVMs were used at every polling station. EVM was introduced to overcome the problems with paper ballots, EVM is a better, safer and more trustworthy option than paper ballots. EVMs are not only more secure, than ballots but are also cost-efficient. Use of EVMS has brought down the whole costing of the election process. EVMs are also easier to transport and it also makes counting easier.
EVM has two units a control unit and the balloting unit. The control unit is under the surveillance of polling officer and balloting units come with the name and symbol of the candidate, it is used by the voter.
In recent time especially after 2014 general elections, there are questions been raised again EVMs, allegations are been made that EVMs can be hacked and the voting process can tamper. In the wake of this allegations, ECI introduced voter–verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), so now every time a voter uses an EVM, a paper trail with the name or symbol of the voted candidate is generated by the EVM.
In this digital world, the talks about online voting are doing rounds for some time. Few countries are actually texting online voting and even in India, suggestions are provided to conduct online voting with the help of Aadhar.
With allegations of tampering of EVMs and the security issues regarding Aadhar and the world problem of an online data breach, the online voting doesn’t look secure enough.