Amid parties raising concerns over the security and reliability of electronic voting machines (EVMs), officials at the Election Commission claim the EVMs being used in Gujarat are tamper -proof and that necessary security checks are being done at all levels to ensure free-and-fair elections.
Senior EC officials maintain that while software tampering of EVMs is not possible, there is a 3-4% chance for hardware malfunctioning from the time the EVM machines leave the factory to the time of polling.
The security system also involves a two-stage randomisation process in which machines will be randomly selected before reaching a polling station to ensure that the machines are not pre-programmed to favour a particular candidate.
The first stage of randomisation happens at the district level when the machines reach a particular assembly constituency and the second round happens at the constituency level when machines are randomly selected on the basis of a computer programme to be sent to a polling booth. Each stage of checking and randomisation happens in the presence of observers or representatives of political parties, officials added.
Referring to the EC’s decision to have Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in all 182 Assembly constituencies and have a round of tallying votes in at least one polling booth of each constituency, officials said that this will help establish credibility of the poll process.
Following reports of over 3,000 ballot units being found faulty in the First Level Checks (FLC) conducted by the Gujarat state election commission last month, officials said that most damages were caused in transportation of the units. “There were physical damages such as the outer body being broken or a part coming off. Those machines will be replaced for the polls,” an official told ET.
“Most reports of EVM malfunctioning pertain to physical damages like a broken polling button of weakened batteries. These machines get replaced,” a senior EC official said.
While the current election will see a second generation of EVMs, the EVMs were introduced in 1982. Officials said that the 2019 elections will be conducted with the latest edition of machines, M3, which will be absolutely tamper proof.
The M3 comes with digital verification system coded into each machine.