Friday, April 07, 2006

Electronic Elections - Indian EVM V/s the American Diebold

Everyone's heard of the Electronic Voting Machines ( EVM's ) used in the 2004 Indian elections. They were more successful than initially thought and the Election Commission plans to make their usage more regulated and wide spread.

For people new to EVMs, go here to know all about it

Designed and developed indigenously by two Government Owned Defense Equipment Manufacturing Units, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), EVMs went on to challenge the largely criticised Diebold system used in the American Election system. The Diebold system is a extremely complex piece of election paraphernalia that makes use of costly hardware comprising of touch screens, extensive GUI functionality, PCMCIA storage cards, servers and makes use of equally complex software like SQL Server loaded on top of Microsoft Windows CE and linked up C++ code, DES encryption, etc. The list goes on.....All for a cost of $3300 per piece.

The Indian EVM achieves similar results with a $230 piece that has assembly level code written and burnt into a circuit board.

Here is a wonderful analysis of the two systems

That reminds me of the famous urban legend of how Americans after years of costly research came up with a pen that could write in the micro-gravity environment of space. The Russians just decided to use pencil. Doing it the hard way is not always the sanest thing to do at times.

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