EC to order new generation EVMs that will stop operating when tampered with

Sriparna Ghosh
Electronic Voting Machine

Claims of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) being tampered with may soon end as the Election Commission is all set to buy next generation EVMs that become "inoperable" the moment anybody tries to manipulate the machines.

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The EC decided on this move against the backdrop of several claims made by some political parties that the machines were tampered with during the recent assembly polls. The new 'M3'-type electronic voting machines (EVMs) are equipped with a self-diagnostic system for authentication of genuineness of the machines.

The new EVMs will come with a public key interface-based mutual authentication system. Only a "genuine" EVM, manufactured either by Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) ECIL or defence PSU BEL will communicate with other EVMs in the field. If the EVM is manufactured by any other company, then it won't be able to communicate with other machines, thus exposing it.

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The new EVMs, which will be introduced in 2018, will cost around Rs 1,940 crore. A total of 9,30,430 EVMs that had been purchased before 2006 will be replaced by the EC as they will soon complete their 15-year life cycle.

The Union Cabinet had also authorised the Election Commission to analyse the production capacity and past performance of BEL and ECIL before placing an order with the two companies.

Though in 2016, the Union Cabinet had twice approved funds for the Election Commission to buy new EVMs, the Law Ministry, on Friday, through a written reply in the Rajya Sabha said that EC has not purchased a single new machine in the last three years.

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