Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Electronic Voting to Bolster World’s Largest Elections

As India approaches its next general elections, the world turns its eyes to this monumental democratic process, where it is expected that incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi will vie for an unprecedented third term. This electoral contest is not just a measure of political winds, but also a testament to the technological advancements that have revolutionized voting in the world's largest democracy.

When Modi was sworn in as the 14th Prime Minister of India in 2014, the employment of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) had already established itself as the backbone of the Indian electoral framework. Fast forward to the present day, and these devices, developed by the state-owned Electronics Corporation of India and Bharat Electronics, have become emblematic of the country's commitment to election automation.

The introduction of EVMs, which occurred between 1998 and 2001, marked a significant departure from the traditional use of paper ballots. The transformation was aimed at addressing and mitigating the prevalent electoral frauds that marred India's electoral integrity, such as booth capturing and ballot stuffing.

Studies and observational data over the years have consistently provided evidence that EVMs have successfully curbed fraudulent practices, notably reducing the incidence of false ballots and rejection rates due to unclear marking that were common with paper ballots.

EVMs have been instrumental in elevating the inclusivity of the electoral process. Post-poll surveys have shown a notable increase in turnout among vulnerable populations—including women, the elderly, and less-educated voters—pointing towards the empowering nature of the technology.

Despite the progress election administration has seen since the introduction of the technology, concerns about the integrity of India’s EVMs have been raised by experts. Madhav Deshpande, a prominent figure in the technology community, points out the vulnerabilities inherent in EVM technology, which, although not connected to the internet and hence not hackable, still leave room for manipulation. These concerns stem from the fact that EVMs are based on older technology that has not kept pace with advancements, leading to gaps that could potentially be exploited.

In the upcoming elections, with 900 million voters anticipated to participate, India's electronic voting system will again be at the forefront, consolidating its status as the standard and preferred method for conducting elections in the country. EVMs, with their proven track record, are set to play a pivotal role in what is to be the largest democratic exercise in history.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

2024: A Record-Setting Year in Democracy and Technology

In a watershed moment for democracy, the year 2024 is set to witness an unprecedented scale of electoral participation, with at least 64 countries—including all 27 member states of the European Union—poised to conduct national elections.

This democratic spectacle is projected to engage approximately 49% of the global population, highlighting the sheer magnitude of the citizenry that will exercise their voting rights.

Of particular note, the most populous nations on the planet—India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, and Mexico—are scheduled to hold pivotal elections that could shape the geopolitical landscape for the foreseeable future.

Technology, too, is slated to leave an indelible impact, as close to half of the electorate will utilize electronic voting machines to cast their ballots, signifying a significant inclusion of modern technology in the democratic process.

The United States commands the spotlight with its comprehensive suite of elections slated for November 5. The American populace will determine their next president while simultaneously voting for the entirety of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. The presidential election is particularly charged with echoes of 2020, as incumbent Democrat Joe Biden is anticipated to once again stand against Republican Donald Trump in what can be seen as a sequential political duel.

India, the world’s most populated country, will hold elections for the Lok Sabha, known as the House of the People. With a vast population of 1.44 billion, a substantial portion of which comprises eligible voters, India's the largest democracy in the world. The procedural undertaking of such an event is colossal, necessitating an extensive deployment of electronic voting machines to ensure a smooth and efficient voting process.

With the shifting winds of political power, the outcomes of these elections carry profound implications for international relations, especially in regions marred by conflict, such as Gaza and Ukraine.

The year 2024 will, therefore, not only be remembered for the historic voter turnout but also for the impact of these elections on the unfolding of global events and the balance of power that influences them.