Use of Aadhaar for e-voting; possibilities?

Polling in Telangana has been successfully completed with a few hiccups here and there. The state is eagerly waiting for the result day i.e, December 11. There were a few issues which included missing of names on the voters’ list and the technical failure of EVMs. State Chief Election Officer Rajat Kumar has even apologised publicly for the missing of names from voters’ list, of course, what can we expect from an election which has been conducted without enough ground preparation.

The issue of names missing from the voters’ list has been prevailing since the days of the paper ballot and almost occurs in every election even after the implementation of EVMs. This mainly attributes to human error and sometimes misuse of powers by the ruling government to decrease votes in a segment where the opposition’s mark is high. All these have called for an alternative way in polling. Why don’t we use Aadhaar for e-voting with an additional level of security through biometric authentication?.

In the recent past, Aadhaar was unofficially implemented as a single document which acts as a license to utilise a host of services ranging from applying for a SIM card to getting an LPG connection. With the Central government’s move in this direction, it is not that difficult to implement Aadhaar based voting using modern technology.

The proposal

A South Indian Engineering University has already experimented on a basic model on using Aadhaar for voting. In this method, in the place of the existing EVMs, we will need a controller unit, a fingerprint authenticator and an LCD screen. Every citizen will visit the nearest poll station and place his finger on the biometric device to enter the voting process. The LCD screen will then display the list of candidates to cast vote after matching the fingerprint with data available within UIDAI’s servers. This method is cost effective and time-saving when compared to the EVMs.

In another method, we can even facilitate to vote from home by logging in to a website. However, this is not feasible due to security concerns. But, this option can be extended to the NRIs to increase polling percentage.

Advantages

Aadhaar is a biometry based card unlike voter card, which does not have additional security features. These features can be successfully used to eliminate fraudulent activities such as rigging, missing of names from the voters’ list. Re-verification process of the electoral rolls can be eliminated which will eventually decrease the time and money needed. By deploying this method, a voter can cast his vote from any place of a state without travelling from his workplace to hometown for the purpose of voting. Thereby, increasing the overall voting percentage.

Disadvantages

Every technological innovation will have its own demerits which must be subdued in the best possible manner. For Aadhaar based authentication to be used, the polling station must be supplied with an internet connection, which poses to be an issue in rural areas. Also, the data available with the UIDAI must be reverified before opting for this method to rule out chances of discrepancies. On the other hand, it is very unlikely, that the political parties will accept this proposal in the current situation fearing the loss of votes due to technical errors. If not completely, the Election commission can even try deploying this method at few metro locations like in Hyderabad so that the employees can cast their votes without travelling to their hometowns.

In the current scenario, Aadhaar might take another General election to at least be considered as an alternative due to privacy concerns put forward by the Supreme Court of India and the political leaders. Let us hope for a better voting system based on Aadhaar authentication in the near future to take India’s democratic values a step higher. 

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