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How Secure are EVMs & VVPATs

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The general election in India is a month away and the use of VVPAT along with EVM is approved by election commission. Read on to know how secure is the use of VVPAT in the coming election…

The Lok Sabha general election in India 2019 is only a month away. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has already authorized the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines at all polling stations for the coming general election.

About VVPAT
The VVPAT machines have been in use during elections since 2017 and it helps verify that the vote polled by a person has gone to the chosen candidate. With allegations of EVM tampering cropping up during every election, VVPAT machines are put up a second line of verification.

After a voter presses the button against the chosen candidate, the VVPAT machine gives instant feedback showing the vote has gone to the intended candidate. Though attached with the EVM, a VVPAT machine works as an independent system. It comes with a sealed drop box and a transparent display unit.

Technically speaking an EVM has a Control Unit (CU) and a Balloting Unit (BU) along with VVPAT joined by a cable and the the VVPAT is an additional unit attached to the EVM, which prints a small slip of paper that carries the symbol, name and serial number of the candidate voted by voter, which is visible for 7 seconds in the viewing window.

Working Mechanism
The polling officer has the Control Unit, while the Balloting Unit & VVPAT is kept in a compartment for citizens to vote. Unless the polling officer activates the Control Unit, one cannot vote and also unless the polling officer activates the Control Unit, one cannot vote. Each Balloting Unit has the option of 15 candidates and a NOTA button and two Ballot Units are usually joined to offer 16 to 31 candidates including NOTA.

Security Features
The Electronic Voting Machines are standalone machines and there is no option for radio frequency transmission or reception and also there is there is no possibility of no wireless communication. The main chip inside the EVM is a One Time Programmable (OTP) chip. In terms of inputs, it offers dynamic coding of key press and has a Real Time Clock for time and date stamping key press.

When the citizen presses the voting button on the Ballot Unit, the vote is recorded and the EVM gets locked. Even if one presses that or any other button again, no vote will be recorded. Basically, EVMs ensure the principle of ‘one person, one vote’. No one can rewrite a program without damaging the sealed microchip in EVM. So EVM programming cannot be changed to facilitate a particular candidate or party even oif the EVMs can be taken away and damaged while booth capturing.

In case of technical glitches, an officer, in charge of 10 polling stations, carries spare EVMs to replace the faulty EVMs.

The Road Ahead
If you have any doubts about whether your vote has gone to the candidate and party you chose, the VVPAT will now let you double-check this. Given the security and privacy features of EVMs and VVPATs, they are said to be tamper-proof by the vendors who have designed, manufactured and tested it.

Also the Election Commission of India has assured that all EVMs are completely secure and tamper-proof, and can never register a wrong vote.

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