'India's EVMs totally dependable; no regime could have changed if these machines were manipulated': S Y Quraishi

India’s former chief election commissioner Dr S Y Quraishi said India’s electronic voting machines are “totally dependable” because they don’t form part of a “connected” ecosystem unlike the “far more dangerous” smartphones in our pockets. "No regime could have changed if these machines could have been manipulated", Quraishi said during a talk on electoral management and inclusive democracy at the UN headquarters in New York City.

Former CEC SY Quraishi. PTI

Former CEC SY Quraishi. PTI

Quraishi and Nepal’s election commissioner Ila Sharma spoke at the New York event. Quraishi, a 1971 batch IAS officer, was India’s CEC from 2010 to 2012. His book ’An Undocumented Wonder - the making of the great Indian election’ came out in 2014.

Looking ahead to 2019, Quraishi said the next general election is likely to see more aggressive politics which means implementing the model code will become increasingly difficult for the EC.

Social media mischief will rise, says Quraishi, despite platforms like Facebook being reined in the embarrasment of an epic privacy scandal.

Quraishi, on a speaking tour in the US, has said often that any worry about security of Election Commission of India (ECI) data is “unnecessary”.

“Questions have been raised if linking the ECI’s data with Aadhaar will compromise privacy and security. There, too, my answer is no. The only objective of linking ECI with Aadhaar is to detect duplicate voters — a major concern. Biometrics will involve checking impersonation only,” Quraishi wrote in The Indian Express.

Takeaways from former CEC Quraishi’s thoughts on the world’s most outsize election, barely 12 months away.

2014 election largest in world history
“The Indian general election is often referred to as one of the biggest elections. That is not accurate. It is the world’s biggest election. The 2014 election was the largest in world history. At last count, we had 834 million voters of which 554 million voted. We have 11 million polling staff. You may find it hard to belive that they are neutral but we don’t trust anybody except our government officials.”

Everybody is a minority somewhere
“We are a mini world. We have almost every religion, 22 official languages, 200 developed languages, 2000 dialects…We have deserts, deep forests, snow covered mountains. We have to address that diversity effectively. Inclusion is a key word for the Election Commission. Everybody is a minority in India. Hindus are a majority across the country but are a minority in Kashmir.”

Women's right to vote is a big deal
“It took 144 years for the USA to give women the right to vote. India, at that time a poor country, gave women equal voting rights from Day One. It may not sound like a big deal today but it is.”

Fait accompli is unacceptable
Fait accompli is simply not acceptable in case a booth is captured. There’s no way that there can be foul play and we get to know about it post facto. We have a fool proof method of communication which is layered down to painstaking detail. If all else fails, we have young men on the ready who will simply run all the way back to the nearest EC office and inform us.”

Representative democracy?
"Party with third largest vote share, 20% (BSP in UP) ended up with zero seats! That does raise questions about representative democracy. Proportional Representation system like Germany, Sri Lanka and Nepal needs to be examined."


Updated Date: May 15, 2018 21:09 PM

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