Difference of INDIAN EVM with other Countries :Civil Services Mentor Magazine: AUGUST - 2017

:: Difference of INDIAN EVM with other Countries ::

Free and fair elections are central to the democratic ethos of any country. This includes fair, accurate, and transparent electoral process with outcomes that can be independently verified. Conventional voting accomplishes many of these goals. However, electoral malpractices like bogus voting and booth capturing pose a serious threat to spirit of electoral democracy. It has, thus, been the endeavour of the Election Commission of India to make reforms in the electoral process to ensure free and fair elections. EVMs, devised and designed by Election Commission of India in collaboration with two Public Sector undertakings viz., Bharat Electronics Limited, Bangalore and Electronics Corporation of India Limited, Hyderabad, is a major step in this direction.

Electronic Voting Machines ("EVM") are being used in Indian General and State Elections to implement electronic voting in part from 1999 elections and in total since 2004 elections. The EVMs reduce the time in both casting a vote and ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES declaring the results compared to the old paper ballot system. Bogus voting and booth capturing can be greatly reduced by the use of EVMs. Illiterate people find EVMs easier than ballot paper system. They are easier to transport the EVMs compared to ballot boxes.

EVM has become the leitmotif of the world's largest democratic exercise and gets smarter with each avatar. Here is an attempt to briefly trace the evolution of the EVM and its use in the world's largest democracy.

EVMs were first used in 50 polling stations of Parur Assembly Constituency of Kerala in May 1982. These machines could not be used after 1983 after a Supreme Court ruling that necessitated legal backing for the use of Voting machines in elections. The law was amended by Parliament in December, 1988 and a new section 61A was inserted in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 empowering the Commission to use voting machines. On 24th March, 1992, necessary amendment to the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 was notified by the Government in the Ministry of Law and Justice. An Expert Committee was constituted by the Govt. of India which concluded that these machines are temper proof. Since, November 1998, EVMs have been using in each and every general/ bye elections to Parliamentary and Assembly Constituency. India turned into an e-democracy in General Elections 2004 when EVMs were used across all polling Stations in the country. Since then, all elections were conducted by EVMs .

The process of electronic voting can be of three types:

(i)Direct Recording Machines placed at designated polling station,

(ii)Internet Voting

  • Remote Online Voting
  • At Designated Polling Stations

(iii)Optical Scanners

  • Stand-alone
  • Networked for centralized counting of results

EVMs used in India fall under the first type of stand-alone direct recording machines with no possibility of any kind of network connectivity where voters cast their votes at an assigned polling station on the day of election under strict administrative security ensured by the ECI.

Difference from International EVM's

Even though ECI EVMs are also direct recording machines ECI EVMs are completely different from any of the EVMs used internationally either for direct recording or for internet voting or for optical scanning. This is clearly highlighted in the comparative analysis of ECI EVMs with the DRMs used in countries like Germany, Netherland, Ireland, and USA as follows:


In Germany, the e-voting machines manufactured by NEDAP were used in between 2005 - 2009 before it came under criticism and finally discontinued. The Bundesverfassungsgericht (the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany) ordered the discontinuation of the use of NEDAP machines in 2009 because of the below-mentioned reasons:

  • The use of Nedap electronic voting machines violated the principle of the public nature of elections (Article 38 in conjunction with Article 20.1 and 20.2 of the Basic Law) that requires that all essential steps in the elections are subject to public examinability unless other constitutional interests justify an exception. It also observed that "it must be possible for the citizen to check the essential steps in the election act and in the ascertainment of the results reliably and without special expert knowledge". Ireland: NEDAP machines were used in Ireland in between 2002 - 2004. The use of these machines was questioned following which two independent commissions were set up. The two Commissions on the Secrecy, Accuracy and Testing of the Chosen Electronic Voting System, concluded the NEDAP machines could not be used in elections in Ireland on the following grounds:
  • Inadequate technological safeguards
  • Insecure transfer of data by the use of CDs
  • Absence of a comprehensive independent end-to-end testing, verification and certification by a single accredited body
  • Inconsistencies in physical security of machines across constituencies

United States of America:

In 2000, after the dispute on the voting method in the USA presidential elections, the voting method was reviewed (Esteve, Goldsmith, & Turner, 2012: 185). Accordingly, Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Systems (like the widely used AccuVote TS developed by Premier Election Solutions, commonly called Diebold) were introduced. DRE Systems uses "one of three basic interfaces (pushbutton, touchscreen or dial)" through which "voters record their votes directly into computer memory. The voter's choices are stored in DREs via a memory cartridge, diskette or smart card…Some DREs can be equipped with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) printers..." Currently, in the USA, the Direct Recording Machines are used in 27 states, among which paper audit trails are used in 15 states. The other voting methods include: Optical Scan Paper Ballot Systems, Ballot Marking Devices, and the Punch Card Ballot.
Other countries: In Brazil, the machines used in elections are called 'electronic ballot boxes' which are stand-alone direct electronic recording systems. In Venezuela, SATIS (Smartmatic Auditable Election Systems) voting machines are used which were fully implemented across the nation in 2004. (Esteve, Goldsmith, & Turner, 2012: 185)


Indian EVMs are truly unique compared to the e-voting machines used in other parts of the world for the following reasons:

  • ECI-EVMs are stand-alone non-networked machines
  • The ECI-EVMs are manufactured in two PSUs namely ECIL and BEL, unlike machines used in other countries, which were manufactured entirely by private entities. Hence there is no chance of involvement of vested interest of private players or technology vendors in decision making or production of the ECI-EVMs.
  • ECI-EVMs have been time and again successfully verified and certified by an independent Technical Experts Committee after an end-to-end testing process. STQC under Ministry of Information and Technology, an accredited third party entity, conducts standardization and certification of ECI EVMs produced by manufacturers, unlike the machines used in Netherlands,
  • In ECI EVMs data is stored internally and not transferrable by any device, unlike other countries where voting data recorded in the DRM is transferred by means of CD, etc.
  • Commission has evolved full end to end security protocol and administrative safeguards for the use, storage, transportation and tracking of ECI EVMs, unlike in other countries where NEDAP machines were used.
  • Every EVM has a unique number attached to it, which is recorded in the Election Commission's database through EVM Tracking Software. This number of the EVM can always be cross-checked against the database.
  • The software used in these EVMs is One Time Programmable (OTP), which can't be re-written after manufacture.
  • Section 61 A of the Representation of the Peoples Act 1951 allows the use of EVMs by ECI. The different High Courts across the country have also upheld the use of EVMs time and again in various judgments and the Karnataka High Court in 2004 declared ECI-EVMs as "national pride" because of its transparency and robustness.

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