Today there is huge debate going on in India regarding (Electronic Voting Machines) EVM used in voting. Many politicians lead by Mayawati, Arvind Kejriwal, Akhilesh Yadav, Rahul Gandhi have questioned the EVM and blamed them for the recent poll debacle. And considering they have questioned EVM, they are asking Election Commission (EC) to revert to Paper Ballot. Nobody is stating how paper ballot is better than EVM.
What is alarming is lack of technical discussion around the various technologies. EVM is also a technology which has been in use in India for more than 2 decades. Technologies and world has evolved substantially in last two decades, but somehow everybody is ignoring that.
Hacking – Online & Offline
First, EVMs are not connected via internet in India. Hence online hacking is not possible. The machines are pre-configured with software at the time of manufacture which is very difficult to mess with later. Hence online hacking is impossible with EVMs.
On the other hand the EVMs need to be stored, physically moved across geographies and are stored at various places during the period of elections which may last 2 to 3 months. During this period if people can get access to the machines they can do almost anything with the data stored. Yes, there are seals, locks and human security systems around these EVMs but we all know these security systems can never be foolproof especially when you doubt the government machinery who are managing the election. We should also be aware that Election Commission generally does not have big team at its disposal and manages the elections with help of temporary staff who come from the government machinery. Here we should mention that VVPT (Voter Verified Paper Trail) EVMs are no better than regular EVMs. They actually do not provide any Audit Trail. It just improves the optics, because in this case voter get to see whom he has voted for. However, in offline hacking, these papers can always be replaced.
The same risk is true with Paper ballot. Like EVMs they are also stored and physically transferred across the country and are on the mercy of physical security systems and temporary election management staff. Hence when it comes to hacking, Paper ballot is equally bad in comparison to EVMs.
Advancement in voting technology
Mobile Voting (mVoting) is several generations advanced technology over EVMs (eVoting) and paper ballot. EMV with VVPT, EVM with internet, Internet voting (iVoting) were technologies in between. We need not waste time on them as Mobile Voting (mVoting) is much more advanced them all these technologies.
Mobile Voting (mVoting)
Again, mVoting has many versions across the world. For shake of simplicity we would restrict ourselves to the most advanced version and made for India version as created by Right2Vote Infotech Private Limited which has two major patented advancement over all other form of mVoting – Aadhaar based mVerification and Audit trail (along with secret ballot). Let’s look at the key advantages of mVoting:
Advantages of Mobile Voting
- Vote from Anywhere & Voter turnout:The biggest advantage of mVoting is that voter can vote from anywhere directly from his or her mobile. Voter is not restricted by his geographical location, even a NRI sitting in USA or a soldier sitting in Siachen can vote. Currently 1/3 of the population is denied their #Right2Vote due to booth based voting. Mobile voting cures this biggest fraud of democracy.
- Verification:mVoting is equipped with Aadhaar based mVerification (Mobile Verification) both on the basis of bio-metrics (Fingerprint / Iris) or Mobile OTP (One Time Password). Aadhaar has been rated as one of the most sophisticated system even by World Bank and no other country in the world has something equivalent of Aadhaar. This verification works very similar to verification in case of mobile based banking transactions. As there is no human involvement, the system is 100x better than any physical verification system.
- Cost:Cost of election management will be reduced by more than 90% as no booths or physical infrastructure is required
- Time:Time required for election management would be reduced by more than 90% as the complete election can be held in one day and counting is real-time.
- Effort:Human man-hours required to manage the election would reduce by more than 90%. Verification, security, counting etc. everything is automatic.
- Audit trail:Right2Vote has built a patented audit trail feature along with secret ballot. This we have been able to achieve with smart use of encryption and Aadhaar. All other system including paper ballot, EVM and VVPT has no audit trail mechanism.
- Regular usage:The current voting system involves so much cost, time and effort that citizen opinion is taken only once in 5 years. With Right2Vote platform citizen opinion can be taken on all important matters, something similar to Mohala Sabha as suggested by AAP.
Criticism of Mobile Voting
First, most of the people including parties like BJP, AAP, Congress, BSP, SP or politicians like Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav have not yet given a serious thought to Mobile Voting. To be fair to Mr. Narendra Modi & Gujarat Election Commission, they tried out iVoting in 2010 in Gujarat, but it didn’t worked out as internet penetration was very low then and technology was not made for India. Aadhaar was also not there.
Hacking: People believe just because something is connected to internet it can be hacked. The whole banking system, the stock market etc. works completely on internet today. If internet was so hackable, such critical system would not have been connected to internet. Over and above, Right2Vote platform provides end to end encryption which makes hacking impossible.
Coercion: There are enough ways to avoid coercion and assuming existing system do not have coercion issues is illusion. For detailed discussion refer: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/only-arguement-against-mobile-voting-coercion-neeraj-gutgutia
India needs to move with time and leverage the super work they have done with Aadhaar. Just because advanced countries have not moved to mVoting we should not reject it. Advanced countries do not have system like Aadhaar. Right2Vote Platform is a made for India technology and it’s natural that the biggest democracy in the world should lead by example when it comes to biggest democratic revolution of the world – Mobile Voting. Audit trail technology in Right2Vote’s mVoting platform would ensure that no politician would be able to blame the system for their loss in elections.