It is not technology that is the weak link. It is the trust of the official machinery that run the election. If the election officials could be trusted (with necessary checks, balances and deterrents to beat the human nature), the EVMs can be trusted. If the pandu who guard the EVMs could be bribed so that a bribed ECIL engineer can load a new programme to the EVMs, no amount of technology can save you.
I really don't get it.
Let's assume that EVMs are easily rigged and hence need to be abolished.
Then what do we do?
Go back to the paper ballot system?
Will Mehta ji and others be able to vouch that the paper ballot system is less prone to rigging than EVMs?
Perhaps he needs a discussion with old timers of the West Bengal CPI(M) Coordination Committee union on this subject - how there used to be 100 per cent polling in one booth in swing constituencies in Kolkata, for example, and only 40 per cent in another less than half a km away. [Note: The Coordination Committee usually nominates polling officials in West Bengal. No prizes for guessing the usual party affiliations of these gentlemen]
It can, however, be argued that in a paper balloting system both the ruling party as well as opposition get a chance to rig the polls at particular booths/constituencies where they are strong while in an EVM system only the party controlling the government machinery can do that, one reason me thinks both the BJP and CPI(M) - and their supporters - agree that EVMs are bad after this election and not before.
The point is - as Dileep says - any system is only as good as the person(s) who are responsible for it. To call the EVMs evil and easily riggable just to go back to the old paper system without building up the system to be tamper proof is stupid to say the least.
And if you build a system to be tamper proof, then what's wrong with EVMs?
This debate reminds me of the campaign against computerisation which the CPI(M) ran in West Bengal in the 1980s. It ran something like this:
Computers will take away all jobs and more importantly will lead to largescale scams because data can be manipulated.
Of course it could be that those with heebiejeebies' about EVMs may actually think computerisation is a bad thing!
Bottom line the campaign (and perhaps the focus of this thread) should be how to set in place a tamper proof system of balloting rather than focusing on whether we need to go back to good old days of paper and chop voting by discontinuing what is really a Indian technological marvel - a robust, cheap and reliable electronic voting machine which can even run on car batteries.