Paper Ballot loses out to VVPAT machines.But is there any merit in going back to the humble Paper Ballot, Have we looked at all questions relevant? Lets See.
Some days ago, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared funds for buying VVPAT machines. A VVPAT or a Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machine leaves a paper trail of votes cast on an electronic voting machine.
Other reports say, the order for 16 Lakh VVPATs has already been given.
VVPAT is NOT the remedy for tampered EVMs
The electronic voting machines when equipped with VVPATs will show (just show) the voter whether his press of a button on an EVM, is in conformance with the VVPAT. If said in simple words, then the VVPAT paper print will tell the voter who he/she has voted for. That’s if he has pressed the EVM button besides ‘X’ party or candidate, the paper trail (like the one you see on a bus conductor’s ticket vending machine and elsewhere) will show him a printed ‘X’.
The voter in India will see VVPAT equipped EVMs in future elections in the country.
But is it the remedy for tampered EVMs?
If EVMs can be tampered then isn’t it possible for the rigger (to make changes in a machine to behave in a particular way) to bring the EVM button in sync with the printable trail.
This question becomes important particular when electronic machines are found prone to hacking. There’re instances of recent past where hackers steered away premium range cars by braking into their security, that too remotely. Irrespective of whether one acknowledges such hacks, the most convenient of excuses to such hackings is that some alien particles are responsible for the machine behaving badly.
Here it’s important to understand why some of the most developed countries such as USA, France, Germany, Russia etc. use paper ballots. They’re not afraid of their own people rigging the elections. They’re afraid of some other super power rigging their elections. That’s why they want to keep their election process at the lowest levels of technology, especially during the vote casting part of it. They know that elections are rigged by incumbent Governments of the country and by some outside powers. Keeping the vote casting step simple allays such fears.
The cabinet nod has come at a time when opposition parties are demanding the Election Commission to go back to the paper ballot and discontinue the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs). Their allegations of EVMs being tempered with may be baseless, but if EC also admits to faulty EVMs, then there’s nothing wrong in going back to the paper ballot. At least the paper ballots will be monitored by humans.
First EVMs saved paper, now it’s time to use some!
Notably, both the government and poll panel have denied the charge and said EVMs were completely safe. This kind of behavior is expected from any incumbent Government, but the situation becomes tricky the moment the Government starts supporting the status quo on price advantage of the solution. First we went electronic to save paper, now we’re adding the same paper for trail purposes.
Secrecy of Your Vote!
To conclude, if EVMs can be tampered or are prone to faulty functioning; then it’s better to go back to the paper ballot. One of the reasons not properly looked into right now, is the extent to which the VVPATs compromise the secrecy of your vote! It’s trail you see!