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22nd June 2024 (10 Topics)

Verification of EVM Burnt Memory in 2024 Elections

Context

For the first time, 11 candidates from the 2024 Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections have requested verification of the burnt memory in the Ballot Units (BUs), Control Units (CUs), and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

ECI’s role in safeguarding electoral credibility

  • This request underscores a broader controversy surrounding EVMs and the Election Commission of India's (ECI) role in safeguarding electoral credibility.
  • The primary challenge facing the Election Commission is ensuring the trustworthiness of the electoral process amid growing skepticism about EVMs.
  • Critics argue that EVMs are vulnerable to tampering or malfunction, potentially compromising the fairness of elections. Such concerns have sparked debates and calls for stringent measures to enhance transparency and accountability in the voting mechanism.

What measures should be taken?

  • To address these challenges, the Election Commission must prioritize several key aspects:
    • Transparency in Testing and Verification: There is a pressing need for rigorous testing and verification procedures for EVMs before and after elections. This includes comprehensive audits of hardware and software components to detect any irregularities or anomalies.
    • Technological Upgrades and Security Measures: Continuous improvement of EVM technology is essential. This involves adopting state-of-the-art encryption methods, robust physical security measures, and regular updates to counter emerging threats.
    • Training and Awareness: Ensuring that electoral officials, political stakeholders, and the public understand the functioning and security measures of EVMs is crucial. Transparent communication about the EVMs' reliability and safeguards can mitigate misconceptions and build confidence in the electoral process.
    • Legal Framework and Accountability: Strengthening the legal framework to address EVM-related disputes and ensuring accountability for any breaches or malfunctions is imperative. Clear guidelines for handling complaints and conducting investigations are essential to uphold electoral integrity.
    • Public Confidence Building: Lastly, fostering public trust in EVMs requires proactive engagement with civil society, media, and political parties. Open demonstrations of EVM functionality and adherence to electoral protocols can help dispel doubts and reinforce faith in the voting system.

About Election Commission

  • The Election Commission is a body established under Article 324 of the Constitution.
  • It is vested with the authority of superintendence, direction, and control of elections for the conduct of elections to Parliament, State Legislatures and the offices of the President and the Vice-President.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Part XV (Article 324-329) of the Indian Constitution: It deals with elections and establishes a commission for these matters.
  • Article 324: Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
  • Article 325: No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll-on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
  • Article 326: Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be based on adult suffrage.
  • Article 327: Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.
  • Article 328: Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
  • Article 329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.
UPSC PYQ

Q: In the light of recent controversy regarding the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), what are the challenges before the Election Commission of India to ensure the trustworthiness of elections in India? (2018)

Mains Practice Question

Q: "The verification of EVM burnt memory is a step towards enhancing electoral transparency but faces significant challenges." Discuss.

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