Money Street News
  • Please enable News ticker from the theme option Panel to display Post

As voters in more than 80 constituencies were casting their ballots on April 26 in the second phase of India’s mammoth general election, the country’s Supreme Court issued a critical ruling on the electoral voting system. Rejecting a petition filed by an NGO, the court ruled that India needs to nurture a “culture of trust” in e-voting. But the lack of trust lies at the heart of the issue, explains FRANCE 24’s Leela Jacinto.

Issued on:

3 min

Days after India began voting last month in a multi-phase general election stretching over six weeks, the country’s Supreme Court rejected petitions seeking to change the electronic voting process.

Voting in the 2024 Indian general elections is 100 percent electronic. To cast their ballots, nearly 970 million eligible voters must use what’s called the EVM – the Electronic Voting Machine.

To get a global perspective: Electronic or e-voting is the subject of much academic and technical debate and discussion. 

The UN’s International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) maps global e-voting adoption. Most countries use e-voting in some constituencies or states and often for local elections or referendums.

France, for instance, does not have e-voting for national elections. Then there are countries such as Germany, Norway, Finland that tried it on a small scale and then banned it.

India’s Election Commission recommends it. In the Indian context, there are many advantages: the sheer scale of the world’s biggest election. In some rural, remote areas in the past, there were booth-capturing & ballot-stuffing security problems. So the Indian election commission maintains it’s safer and more efficient.

Regarding the latest plea before the Indian Supreme Court, the devil here lies in the details.

What are the details?

The devil comes in two acronyms: EVMs or Electronic Voting Machines are sort of machine ballots and VVPAT, which stands for Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail. 

The VVPAT is a gadget that produces a paper slip, which is visible to the voter on a little screen for around seven seconds before it gets stored in a sealed drop-box. 

The latest petition in the Supreme Court was filed by an Indian NGO, the Association for Democratic Reforms. It pleaded for the paper slips from VVPAT units to be handed to voters to verify their choices before casting their ballots. The Supreme Court of course rejected this – along with some other demands. 

In its ruling, India’s highest court noted that “blindly distrusting” the system is a problem and “a culture of trust” had to be nurtured.

But trust is really the heart of the matter here. 

So is there a trust problem? 

Building trust is one of the key recommendations of the UN’s International IDEAS.

The fundamental concern is the fear that technology can be manipulated in the ruling party’s favour. It strikes at the core of democracy. 

There’s the technical side to address this and India has a good track record on that. The Supreme Court has been ruling on this since 2013, making recommendations that have been adopted.

But on the issue of building trust, it’s faired poorly.

For starters, the EVM issue got politicised on the campaign trail.

The latest Supreme Court ruling was immediately seized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the campaign trail, who said the verdict was “a tight slap” to the opposition Congress party.

The Congress responded to Modi’s “tight slap” with a “spanking” jibe. It also noted that it was not the litigant to the Supreme Court petition.

But beneath the rhetorical whipping and whacking dominating headlines, opinion polls have recorded undisputed decline in levels of trust among Indian voters.

The biggest Indian pre-election poll, the Lokniti study this year recorded a decline in the levels of trust in the Election Commission and EVMs.

Experts have offer various explanations for this decline in trust. But the intense discussions, debates and posts on social media over EVMs also underscores the fact that Indians believe in democracy, they care deeply about elections, expect it to be conducted fairly – and if they have concerns, they will create a stink.

The 2024 Indian general elections sees more than 970 million eligible voters casting their ballots in a multiphase vote from Apri 19 to June 1, 2024.
© FMM Studio Graphics

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get our latest downloads and information first. Complete the form below to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

No, thank you. I do not want.
100% secure your website.