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Why Indian voting machines are better than the one used abroad

Several parties, led by Aam Aadmi Party, have claimed that the BJP’s victory in a string of state and civic elections was a result of the manipulation of EVM.

The election commission has both denied the charge.

The poll panel while announcing the EVM challenge on Saturday again said the EVMs used by it were tamper-proof and comparing them with the ones discarded by several Western countries was unfair.

Data from the NEDAP machines used in the Netherlands is transferred through CDs but the Indian EVMs store data internally.

Indian EVMs are stand-alone, direct-recording machines with no possibility of network connectivity with citizens casting their votes at an assigned polling station.

It means that the machine can’t be accessed remotely or be hacked into. This feature makes them impossible to manipulate.

The EVMs are manufactured by two PSUs — ECIL and BEL — with no third party involved. The software is written in-house. Chips were so designed that if tampered with, machines become inoperable.

Information provided by the EC shows that the machines used in The Netherlands between 1990 and 2007 were manufactured by a private Dutch company, NEDAP (Nederlandse Apparaten Fabriek NV).

EVMs used in The Netherlands, Ireland and Germany were privately manufactured and had no independent certification system unlike a very robust verification and certification system

The Netherlands

In 2006, the government ordered an independent test of the machines.

The machines were discontinued after the commissions said the ministry responsible for holding polls didn’t have enough technical knowledge about the machines, forcing officials to depend on external actors for conducting elections. Technology vendors became part of the decision-making process and the ministry was not in a position to exercise effective oversight.


In Germany, the NEDAP-manufactured e-voting machines

The federal constitutional court of Germany, discontinued the machines in 2009, saying they violated the principle of the public nature of elections. The constitution clearly laid out all steps in the elections process were subject to public scrutiny unless said otherwise, the court said.


Ireland used NEDAP machines from 2002 to 2004. Two independent commissions concluded that the machines could not be used because of inadequate safeguards, insecure transfer of data through CDs and inconsistencies in the physical security of machines across constituencies.

The United States of America

In 2000 the voting method was reviewed and direct recording electronic (DRE) systems introduced after a dispute in the presidential election.

DRE systems use push button, touch screen or dial through which people record their votes directly into computer memory. Voters’ choices are stored in DREs via a memory cartridge, diskette or smart card.

As many as 27 states use direct recording machines. Fifteen of these use paper audit trails. The other voting methods include optical scan paper ballot systems, ballot-marking devices and the punch card ballot.


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