The European Parliament elections 2019 had an expected count of 400 million people eligible to vote in one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world.
The European elections took place from May 23-26, 2019 in twenty-eight countries, giving all adult EU citizens the opportunity to select who will represent them in the European Parliament. However, while this cannot be compared to the volumes of Indians that vote in the Lok Sabha Elections, it still makes it bigger than the US presidential vote.
The elections are conducted through a ballot paper and not Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Despite having a number of 400 million, the elections were completed in exactly four consecutive days.
Day-wise Participating Countries
- May 23: Netherlands, UK
- May 24: Ireland, Czech Republic
- May 25: Latvia, Malta, Slovakia
- May 26: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden
Counting is also done on a country-by-country basis, however, the results are kept secret until all voting is finished. What makes the process watertight is counting and results happen on the same day once the voting ends.
In the 2014 elections, for the first time, president of the European Commission (the executive arm of the EU) was nominated by the main European political parties. The candidate of the European People’s Party went on to get the Commission president post after obtaining the approval of a majority in the new Parliament.
General Elections in India
In India, for many years elections had been conducted with the help of ballot papers, but since the process was slow, Election Commission of India decided to switch to the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
- EVM was first used in the Kerala’s ‘Paravur Assembly’ polls in 1982.
- Later, the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in India was used in limited constituencies for the 1999 Lok Sabha elections
- After the Lok Sabha Election-2004, India has completely switched over to EVMs for the Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections
However, time and again, several questions have been raised on the accuracy and transparency of technically programmed EVMs. This concern is not raised just in India but globally as well.
In 2010, when the Congress was in power, Dr Subramanian Swamy, Rajya Sabha MP (BJP), had written a detailed article on the possibilities of the EVMs being rigged. He quoted:
“Electronic voting machines (EVMs) were supposed to be the cure for the malady of booth-capturing in elections in India, but in the present form of use they have only worsened the problems.
Moreover, EVMs also do not meet the legal requirements set out in the Information Technology Act, 2000.”
However, Dr Swamy’s silence after joining the BJP who is in power currently, is just deafening.
At one end some countries of Europe and North America are getting away from the EVM system while some countries of South America and Asia are still continuing with the same.
Electronic Voting Machines used in some of the world’s largest democracies, include:
- United Arab Emirates
However, major developed countries of the world do not rely on the technology of EVMs:
- United States
- The Netherlands
…have banned the use of EVMs due to serious doubts about safety, accuracy, reliability and verification of elections through electronic machines which have been raised throughout the world.
Within India too, the issue of Electronic Voting Machines being tampered has been raked up by several political parties. Several videos have emerged across India which demonstrate, how the lapse of time from voting in Phase 1 and counting after 6 weeks can impact the fairness of the results.
Why are EVMs so Vulnerable?
- There are different steps in an EVM life-cycle
- Development, installation, votes recording, data storage, and data transfer to a central repository
- The machines can be vulnerable as each step in the life cycle of a voting machine involves different people gaining access to the machines, often installing new software
- It wouldn’t be hard for, say, an election official to plant a “Trojan” program on one or many voting machines that would ensure one outcome or another, even before voters arrived at the stations