Can EVMs subvert democracy?

June 25, 2009

To appear in ‘Eternal India: A New Perspectives Monthly’. Will post the full article when it is published.

Can Electronic Voting Machines subvert elections?

By Rajeev Srinivasan

“The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery.” – Thomas Paine, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, 1795

“Those who cast the votes decide nothing, those who count the votes decide everything” – Joseph Stalin

“The first stage of fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merge of State and corporate power” – Benito Mussolini

  1. Abstract

Are India’s election results an accurate reflection of the will of the people? Or is it possible that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) that are deployed in large numbers in India’s elections can be manipulated to subvert the voters’ intent? If that is the case, it would be a serious matter, because that would reduce India’s democracy, of which most Indians are so proud, to a charade. In this essay, we consider the ways in which EVMs could have been used to defraud the Indian voter in 2009. We emphasize that this essay is only about the possibility of fraud; it is beyond the scope of this note and will take further analysis and research to demonstrate actual fraud, if such existed.

  1. Introduction

A number of elections around the world have been condemned for various levels of fraud, misdemeanor and felony over the years. Undoubtedly, some of the criticism is well-deserved (for instance, the routine instances of 100% voter turnout in certain totalitarian countries). In some cases, it appears elections were “stolen” though manipulation of the vote tally, thus, in effect, perverting the “will of the people”, that cornerstone of a genuine democratic, republican regime.

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3 Responses to “Can EVMs subvert democracy?”

  1. wanderlust Says:

    hi rajeev,
    it would be helpful for those of us who use feed readers to follow your blog if you published these articles in their entirety, so as to save us the trouble of checking your blog routinely to see if this post is updated or not.

  2. rajeev2007 Says:

    hello wanderlust, i am a little unclear about how the feed readers work, but when i do update this post, i presume that will alert you? i have to embargo this until the journal actually publishes it, and that’s routinely the way print entities work. i figured i’d put in a little teaser here to pique readers’ interest.

  3. wanderlust Says:

    no, alerts are triggered only when a new post is posted, not when an existing post is updated.
    most people are subscribed to and receive atleast a hundred updates a day… it becomes easy to forget about that one post which promised to update ‘sometime soon’.


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