Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
1) Do you think EVMs fail on the tests of a free and fair election? Discuss with respect to the aspects of transparency, verifiability, and secrecy.(250 words)
Why this question:
The question is intended to evaluate the issues associated with EVMs.
Key demand of the question:
The answer must discuss in detail the problems associated with EVMs and solutions to overcome them.
Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.
Structure of the answer:
Briefly explain what are EVMs ,how they function.
Body of the answer should discuss the following aspects:
Problems with EVMs:
- EVMs are neither transparent nor verifiable – Neither can the voter see her vote being recorded, nor can it be verified later whether the vote was recorded correctly; What is verifiable is the total number of votes cast, not the choice expressed in each vote.
- VVPATs solve only one-half of the EVMs’ transparency problem: the voting part.
- counting part remains an opaque operation – If anyone suspects a counting error, there is no recourse; VVPATs can solve this problem too, through statistics; At present, the EC’s VVPAT auditing is restricted to one randomly chosen polling booth per constituency; K. Ashok Vardhan Shetty, a former IAS officer, demonstrates that this sample size will fail to detect faulty EVMs 98-99% of the time; He also shows that VVPATs can be an effective deterrent to fraud only on the condition that the detection of even one faulty EVM in a constituency must entail the VVPAT hand-counting of all the EVMs in that constituency.
- Secrecy – With the paper ballot, the EC could mix ballot papers from different booths before counting, so that voting preferences could not be connected to a given locality; booth-wise counting allows one to discern voting patterns and renders marginalized communities vulnerable to pressure; need Totalizer machines.
- neither the EC nor the voter knows for sure what software is running in a particular EVM.
Conclude with way forward.