India: Voting machine probe sought

By December 14, 2013December 14th, 2015Uncategorized
[UPDATED 12/15/13] – Electronic voting machines have come under scrutiny in two Indian states for alleged irregularities. Officials for a historically dominant political party, the Congress Party,1 have filed a complaint with the Election Commission calling for an independent forensic evaluation of voting machine programming. The state president of another political party has called for a ban on electronic voting machines, where candidates for both the Janata Dal (United) (“JD(U)”) and the Samajwadi Party report significant anomalies in the vote count.

When votes fail to show up in the tally despite a known number of voters who unambiguously supported the candidate, the irregularity can best be sorted out by examining the paper ballots, which India currently lacks, though that is expected to change in its 2014 elections.

Freedom in the World 2013,2 a detailed annual report which contains an overview of political and civil liberties history for each nation, states that India’s electronic voting system reduced irregularities. It may have reduced visible irregularities, but making irregularities invisible is not the same thing as eliminating them. Particularly in India, one of the most tech-savvy nations in the world, election non-transparency may ultimately increase voter unrest.

An active Indian election rights community has been striving to restore transparency to its vote-counting system; you will find informative discussion about transparency for Indian elections in the Google Groups listserv called ElectionTransparencyWorldwide.

Madhya Pradesh black boxIn the state of Madhya Pradesh, JD(U) candidate Suraj Jaiswal reports that only two votes were recorded for him in the polling station where 16 of his family members voted; Pushpa Ben, of the Samajwadi Party, reports that only one vote was credited to her in the polling place where she and nine other immediate family members voted. 3

Tamil Nadu black boxReports noted above are similar to irregularities cited by the leader of yet another party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), in the petition filed by Subramanian Swamy regarding a 2004 election in the city of Madurai, state of Tamil Nadu. The Swamy petition led the Supreme Court to order introduction of a paper trail before the 2014 polls.

Rajasthan black boxIn the state of Rajasthan, a complaint filed by the Congress Party cites “complaints from several party workers and candidates belonging to different Assembly constituencies that the programming for these machines had been tampered with.” 4 Congress Party candidate Danish Abrar claimed that the electronic voting machine (EVM) at polling booth no-192 in Sawai Madhopur accepted votes only for one of the 12 candidates, and that the inaccurate count, after two hours of voting, caused officials to examine and switch out the voting machine. 5
Gujarat black boxSuspicions by the Congress Party in Rajastan point to voting machine programming said to have taken place in the nearby state of Gujarat, which complainants cite as a stronghold for opponents.

(12/15/2013: Updated with additional details on Rajasthan irregularities)


Election transparency: Election transparency is the public ability to see and verify each essential step in elections, the essential steps being: (1) who can vote (voter list), (2) who did vote (poll list, or participating voter list), (3) counting of the vote, and (4) chain of custody. Reasons for transparency with sources:
All Black Box Voting stories related to election transparency:


  1. Freedom House: Freedom in the World 2013- Afghanistan Report. New York, US: Rowman & Littlefield (2013) ISBN 978-1-4422-0122-4
  2. ibid.
  3. Madhya Pradesh: JD(U) alleges electoral fraud, calls for banning EVMs, The Hindu, 12/10/2013,
  4. Mahim Pratap Singh: EVMs were tampered with, alleges Rajasthan Congress, The Hindu, 12/13/2013,
  5. Congressmen complain to PM about alleged tampering with EVMs, , 12/15/2013,



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