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? [Answer in 150 Words]
Controversy around EVM
- The Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) have been in use at a wide scale since the year 2000.
- However, in recent elections (assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand etc.) many political parties have raised voice against the credibility of the EVMs.
- They have alleged its tampering and manipulation to hijack the votes in the favor of a single candidate. Even if the popular verdict is against that candidate.
- In the light of this controversy, the Election Commission of India is facing some challenges which can be described as below.
Challenges Before The Election Commission
Sustaining Popular Trust
- Since faith of the people in the electoral process is fundamental to conducting meaningful elections. Hence the esteemed Election Commission of India must do everything it can to establish and sustain the trust of the people in the electoral system.
- Sustaining the faith of the people becomes a challenge when most of the population is less educated and is likely to get swayed if the allegations against the credibility of EVMs are merely rumours.
Training ECI Workforce
- Even a minor technical glitch in an EVM can deter people’s faith in the democratic processes. Therefore maintaining a well trained workforce which is capable of taking proactive steps to detect and rectify any technical issue will be a challenge (especially when it has limited financial autonomy).
- Amidst limited resources (not charged on consolidated fund of India), procurement of fool proof equipment for the purpose of elections at a wide scale is also challenge.
- ECI needs sufficient financial autonomy for imposing required number of quality checks, having sufficient backup equipment etc.
- If democracy is a body, then, ‘conducting free and fair elections’ is its soul. If elections are not conducted fairly, the Democracy will be dead.
- Although, ECI has denied these allegations, yet it becomes important that it takes all the stakeholders into confidence to prove that elections are being conducted fairly.
- Amidst this, conducting orientation workshops for capacity building, mandatory use of VVPAT, EVM challenge etc. are some of the steps taken in the right direction and are likely to re-establish the credibility of the electoral system in India.