With an electoral roll of 814 million, India stands out for being the country with the largest amount of voters in the world. This staggering number is only one of the many other equally impressive political and electoral milestones the largest democracy in the world has: the elections are not carried out during a single day as in most countries, but they take weeks. Also, the elections are based on an electronic voting system.
India recently captured the attention of the world, as it followed a complex schedule between April 7 and May 12 to carry out its general elections, where 543 posts for the Lower House, which will ultimately determine the new prime minister. Results were scheduled to be announced on May 16.
According to the data released by electoral authorities, elections are organized into nine progressive phases, so that voters can turn to the ballots and exert their right to vote electronically.
Geographical and population complexities led India to become a pioneer in the implementation of electronic voting. The adoption of this technology began in 1998, and in 2004, the electronic voting machines (EVM) became the sole means to vote in the country.
India’s automated model is based on a machine or electronic board in which a list of candidates is shown next to a series of switches. Voters select their preferred candidates through these switches and register their vote. The devices have been made by two local companies, Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited.
The impact of the use of electoral technology in this nation can be measured in all aspects: logistic, organizational, economic, ecologic, and in terms of guarantees. An example of its scope can be seen when comparing the following numbers: in 2009, 1,079 voting machines were used during elections in Rajasthan, the second largest state in India, whereas in 1998 —when automation began—, 39,754 conventional ballot boxes had to be used in the same region.
Thanks to e-voting, India has become a benchmark in the successful implementation of voting machines. However, it is striking that it has not yet fulfilled its promise to modernize its system by strengthening post electoral audits, and incorporating the printing of a vote receipt on paper to shield the people’s intent.
Even though India is still at the forefront of election automation globally, the nation is in need for an update of its modern system. For the moment, the nation has a defined plan, but the will to execute it is still missing.