Solution to EVM Controversy
The recent controversy on EVM vulnerability revolves
around the possibility of tampering the EVM by fixing a gadget inside
which can be wirelessly manipulated from outside.
The Critics of the EVM point out that it takes less
than 2 minutes to make the alterations and once done it is possible to
take control of the machine from outside and make changes even after it
has been tested.
The GOI officials maintain that this is only a
theoretical possibility and large scale manipulation is unthinkable
since each EVM contains only a small number of votes and it would not be
worthwhile for any candidate to use this method for altering the
The GOI stand is that even if EVM is not tamper
proof, it is immaterial in the context of conducting free and fair
elections. The critics point out that justice should not only be done
but appear to have been done. If EVMs can be technically tampered with,
the political pressures can be brought to manipulate any number of
It is difficult to say any one of these parties is
wrong. A decision in favour of any one of them would amount to a
compromise and would not be a perfect solution.
I have been therefore advocating that it is essential
for EVMs to be first of all Cyber Law Compliant and then it should
be considered if it is possible to build in a kind of verifiability to
the voting system through some kind of a paper trail.
Having a paper trail the way US is doing may involve
printing a "Voting Slip" which drops into a sealed box after voting and
kept sealed unless ordered to be opened by a Court in an election review
The election commission officials who appeared on
CNN-IBN on 25th expressed the opinion that any form of having a paper
trail would compromise the confidentiality and hence should not be
If therefore we can find a solution that maintains a
paper trail but does not compromise on the confidentiality, I suppose
that the solution should be acceptable to both the current warring
Additionally people like the undersigned want
the system to be Cyber Law Compliant.
I would like to present such a solution here in below
which satisfies all these three segments for consideration for all the
parties concerned including Mr Subramanya Swamy who is in the forefront
of the current movement.
1. Replace the front of the EVM with a touch
2.Load the ballot paper so as to appear as an
image on the screen. It should contain a serial number or a running
digital clock which shows the time say in the top right corner.
3.When the voter exercises his option and presses
on any part of the name/symbol or the adjoining cell, a picture of
the voting mark (Circle with X inside) appears on the adjoining
cell. At this point of time the image resembles a printed ballot
paper after casting of the vote.
4. When the voter presses a "Confirmation" by
pressing the name/symbol once again, the ballot will be taken as
confirmed, the image will be animated to change into a folded ballot
paper and dropped into a box. This gives the confidence to the
illiterate voter that his vote has been correctly cast. (Animation
is only for the dramatic effect and has no legal significance).
5. Once the vote is confirmed, the system will
freeze the image of the completed ballot paper including the time on
display and calculate the hash value of the document.
6.The EVM will have a built in printer roll which
is within the sealed part of the EVM. The hash value of the cast
vote would be printed on the roll sequentially along with the time
of vote. The roll even after printing remains inside. It will just
have one line printing per vote containing the hash value.
Now we shall see how this system satisfies the three
parties contesting the current system.
From the Cyber Law Compliance angle it has been
explained in detail by the undersigned in his earlier article
) that a paper document such as the front side of the EVM in the present
practice cannot be linked effectively with the button which takes an
electronic signal is addressed since the entire ballot paper along with
the portion where the voter affixes his symbol is a single undivided
The frozen ballot view gives the voter a clear
picture of what is happening and there is a satisfaction for the
The printed paper roll provides the verifyability.
Using of a hash of the ballot paper with time component makes each hash
different and also makes the vote confidential.
When it is necessary for the vote to be verified on
Court orders, the vote at the given time has to be simulated and hash
generated again to compare the two hashes. This is done through the
testing mode of the software where the ballot paper is reproduced and
time is given as an input.
(The voter alone knows to
whom he has voted and if a few random persons are selected to confide to
whom they have voted and the voting is simulated, the machine can be
tested at any point of time for its integrity).
If the GOI is interested this device can be produced
even in association with BEL under the supervision of the BEL engineers
themselves. The source code to be embedded with the chip has to be
modified along with the touch screen top. Yes there will be some costs
to replace the huge stock of EVMs presently held by the Government. But
it is worth the effort.
Comments are welcome.
Aug 26 2010
Comments are Welcome at