Archive for June, 2010
The track record of exit pollsters in predicting Lok Sabha elections was remarkable until 1999 in India. My own projections for successive Lok Sabha elections in 1996, 1998 and 1999 for the Times of India were spot on. (Refer Table 1) Similarly, my projections for the assembly elections to Uttar Pradesh (2007), Gujarat (2007), Madhya Pradesh (2008) published in the MINT newspaper were also spot on.
It is therefore natural to ask why Indian pollsters in general (and that includes my own predictions) and media pundits in particular have failed to read the voter mood correctly in the 2009 and 2004 Lok Sabha elections when they were able to do so very accurately until 1999? (Refer Tables 2 and 3)
Is there something esoteric and mysterious in the fact that the only two parliamentary elections in India’s parliamentary history, where the pollsters in general have gone horribly wrong, were totally ‘electronic’ elections in which electronic voting machines [...]
In this blog, I have been advocating discontinuation of EVMs and even predicted their exit in less than two years. Election Commission of India (ECI) under the stewardship of chief election commissioner Navin Chawla adopted a rigid attitude and pervaded blatant lies about EVMs resulting in a general lack of trust amongst the political bosses of various parties.
Another election commissioner V.S. Sampath, had stated recently that the Election Commission had an open mind on the EVMs and is willing to make the necessary improvements in them. If the Commission is indeed prepared to make improvements in EVMs as it claims, here is a list of do’s that the ECI must be prepared to implement. The following steps if implemented fully may obviate the need to revert to the traditional paper ballot system.
Physical record of voting a must
If EVMs are to survive, it must be ensured that every vote recorded on the EVM is printed [...]
Besides the technical and legal considerations, there are larger constitutional issues involved in the use of electronic voting machines in elections. Use of EVMs for voting in elections is unconstitutional because they store votes only on electronic memory devices and infringe the fundamental rights of the voters. Here is how.
Under our constitution, “right to vote” is a legal right and not a fundamental right. A fundamental right is one guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. A legal right is one given by law. Right to vote is given under the Representation of People (R.P) Act to all Indian citizens over 18 years of age.
Significantly, while the vote per se is only a legal right, how that vote should be exercised by a voter is his/ her individual expression and that is covered by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution, which guarantees fundamental rights to the citizens of the country. It is this fundamental right, the [...]
The amendment to the RP Act did not empower the Election Commission to introduce electronic voting machines on a nationwide scale in 2004 and 2009. The amendment made to the RP Act in the form of 61A in 1989 allowed use of EVMs selectively and did not envisage blanket use of EVMs on a universal basis.
The amendment to the act states that voting machines “may be adopted in such constituency or constituencies as the Election Commission may, having regard to the circumstances of each case, specify.”
Further Explanation provided under Section 61 A in the RP Act reads as follows:
Explanation.—For the purpose of this section, “voting machine” means any machine or apparatus whether operated electronically or otherwise used for giving or recording of votes and any reference to a ballot box or ballot paper in this Act or the rules made thereunder shall, save as otherwise provided, be construed as including a reference to such voting [...]
Electronic voting machines were first introduced in the country in 1982 in assembly elections on a limited basis. One such constituency where they were used was the Parur Assembly constituency in the state of Kerala. In 50 of the 84 polling stations, electronic voting machines were used. The defeated candidate A.C. Jose who polled 30,327 votes and lost the election to Sivan Pillai by a small margin of 123 votes appealed in the Supreme Court alleging that the use of electronic voting machines in elections was illegal and prayed that the election be set aside. (A.C. Jose vs. Sivan Pillai –1984 (2) SCC 656.)
On March 5, 1984, in the A.C. Jose vs. Sivan Pillai-1984(2) case, the Supreme Court of India had ruled that the use of EVMs was illegal and that the Election Commission had no power to use electronic voting machines as the Representation of People Act (RPA), 1951 and Conduct of Election [...]
Even as political parties in India are getting increasingly impatient to get rid of the EVMs, the controversy regarding India’s paperless Direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines seems to have had no impact on our neighbors who are rushing into electronic voting. Or, looking at it from a different perspective and uncharitably, is the heat generated by the EVM controversy in India and the recent expose’ of how their vulnerabilties can be exploited propelling these countries to expedite their plans for e-voting.
Welcome Bangladesh and Pakistan to the club of e-voting nations. Neither of them has an enviable record in democracy and in maintaining integrity of election verdicts. According to sources, Afghanistan may be the next country to take the e-route.
Let me briefly illustrate their e-voting plans before offering my views on the subject.
Bangladesh has indigenously developed its own electronic voting machines. Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET) has developed these systems. From their description, these voting [...]
One month after facing the heat over the vulnerability of EVMs exposed by the research study coordinated by NetIndia’s Hari Prasad, the chief election commissioner Navin Chawla has responded with flimsy accusations. Speaking to the media in Itanagar last Saturday, Navin Chawla said, “…a private manufacturer, who failed to sell their machines for use in polls, were behind the propaganda that EVMs were vulnerable.”
As the CEC, Mr. Chawla can’t be ignorant that the Election Commission of India (ECI) had never approached private companies for manufacturing EVMs nor the Netindia never approached the ECI with any proposals to sell EVMs. Then, where is the question of selling EVMs for use in polls? Hari Prasad of Netindia brings out these facts in a press statement. http://www.indianevm.com/news_detail.php?id=88
Alex Halderman, professor of computer science at the University of Michigan who was part of the collaborative study says that the statements of the CEC are “egregious lies” and would be responded [...]
The subject of electronic voting machines (EVMs) is now a part of the mainstream Hindi cinema. Rajniti, the star studded bollywood film that hit the silver screens yesterday has some interesting references to the EVMs.
Rajniti is a tell-all commentary on today’s politics. The film showcases all that ails politics today: violence, intrigue, corruption, dynasty politics, sex and hold your breath, EVMs. That EVMs have now been added as yet another dimension of Indian politics shows the salience the subject has achieved, notwithstanding the loud protests from the misleading and fictitious claims made by the Election Commission of India.
I am delightfully enjoying writing this blog. I am a movie buff and never tire of watching films. This one is a bonus for me because it deals with the subject of EVMs that we have been preoccupied with. Film Director Prakash Jha deals with the subject very delicately taking care not to make any sweeping allegations.
The film [...]
As I have been saying over the past few days, the Election Commission is clearly under pressure. They better be. Not only have they stopped making irrational claims about EVMs over the past month, they have begun a clean-up exercise to overcome some of the of EVM security lapses.
In a seven page communiqué to all state CEOs dated May 3, 2010, the Election Commission had directed all states to undertake a physical audit of all electronic voting machines (EVMs) in their custody. The detailed guidelines in this regard can be accessed at http://eci.nic.in/eci_main/CurrentElections/ECI_Instructions/ins310510.pdf
The specific directions are as follows:
I) A committee consisting of officer nominated by Deputy Election Officer (not below the rank of Sub-Divisional Magistrate), Election Supervisor and Warehouse-in-charge of EVMs shall be constituted for every district.
II) This committee shall carry out 100% physical verification of EVMs in the district. 100% physical verification for the current year shall be completed before 30th May, 2010. Details [...]