Saturday, January 30, 2010

E-Voting In India

Electronic voting (e-voting) is a process that allows casting of votes through different electronic mechanisms. It includes both casting of votes as well as the counting of the same through electronic methods. The e-voting technology and platform may include punch cards, optical scan voting systems and specialised voting kiosks, telephone, SMS, etc.

The Gujarat State Election Commission is discussing plans to introduce voting through SMSes and over the Internet for municipal and panchayat elections. Previously, India has adopted the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for elections. EVMs have revolutionised the Indian election process. EVMs have many advantages over the traditional paper based voting system. However, all the advantages are futile if they can be abused and the election results can be manipulated.

According to Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the leading Techno-Legal Expert of India, “E-Voting in India must be accompanied by proper plan and adequate information and communication technology infrastructure. At the same time special emphasis must be given to the cyber security aspect of e-voting mechanism in India”.

While the use of e-voting may help expanding the voting community yet there must be a suitable policy and regulation to prevent and remedy misuses arising out of such voting system. The crucial question is what if e-voting is proved to be tainted subsequently after cyber forensics appraisal and a Government has been formed on the basis of that voting? Will the Election Commission declare such elections null and void? Will the President of India declare a re-election? Will the Supreme Court of India take cognisance of this fact, asks Praveen Dalal.

The attempt of Gujarat State is a good one in the right direction provided some basic safeguards and plans are formulated in advance. Every new system brings its own peculiar problems and the proposed e-voting system would also face the same. Only time would tell how effective this system would be?