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Q. Need of paper audit trails in EVM: Discuss the need of paper audit trails for each EVM machines in every constituency.
Apr 19, 2017 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

In the backdrop of recent assembly election commission has faced extreme and unreasonable complaints against Electronic Voting Machines (EVM’s) by a number of political parties. In this background the Election Commission is working for installing paper audit trials to the EVM’s and it has requested central government for necessary funds. Though there are various issues but, election commission no choice but to have the working of the machines corroborated by a paper audit trail.

Moot points-

  • To have paper trails for each EVM’s in all constituencies is an expensive affair and in 2009 Lok Sabha elections it has been estimated about ₹3,174 crore for installing paper trial for each EVM.
  • Not only it is expensive, but installing paper trials in each EVM is unnecessary and these paper trails are at best required in a few constituencies to corroborate results.

Analysis-

  • Election commission of India is known for conducting election in efficient, free and fair manner in the world’s largest democracy. In the backdrop of recent allegation of EVM tampering by few political parties, election commission should prove their allegation wrong by open demonstration. 
  • The election commission has repeatedly assured voters that there are enough procedural and technical safeguards to prevent large-scale tampering or manipulation of EVMs.
  • Recently the election commission has thrown open challenge to all political parties and other individuals to prove their allegation in open demonstration. By any means it is necessary to reinforce public faith in election commission time to time. 
  • Installing paper audit trials is one of the important and permanent solutions for such allegations. But installing EVM is costly affair and also it is unnecessary task in installing every constituency, at best required in a few constituencies to corroborate results.
  • But under current situation, the inclusion of paper audit trails to the EVMs is costly but perhaps unavoidable. Hence election commission should install paper audit trials as much as possible before 2019 general election.
  • Currently as many as 16 lakh VVPAT machines will be required and only an urgent release of funds will allow the machines to be ready in time for 2019, hence central government should release funds on urgent basis.
  • Introduction of EVMs has resulted in a drastic reduction in electoral fraud like rigging, stuffing of ballot boxes, etc and allowed for greater voter participation. 
  • Since reverting to the older paper ballot system will be regressive, the only option in the face of the protests is to have a back-up in the form of a paper trail, which is something that will end the ongoing controversy.

Conclusion-

The election commission has time and again proved its mettle by conducting free and fair elections effectively in the world’s largest democracy. The recent allegations against EVM tampering have to be addressed in a effective manner. The usage of paper audit trial is best way to address the issue of EVM tampering. The inclusion of paper audit trails to the EVMs is costly but perhaps unavoidable in current situation.


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