Indian voting machines with paper trails to be field-tested

India's Election Commission plans to test them in simulated elections

India's Election Commission plans to test in July new electronic voting machines (EVMs) that will offer a voter a verifiable paper trail, following criticism from political parties and activists that the machines could be tampered with.

But it is unclear whether the paper records of the vote will be discarded or saved after the voter has checked if his vote has been properly recorded. Some local newspaper reports in April said that the paper records would be destroyed after the voter had checked his vote.

The paper records should be saved and used in a recount or if any other dispute arises, said Hari Prasad, the security researcher who along with other researchers released a video last year that they said demonstrated vulnerabilities in the EVMs.

Prasad said that a Commission official had promised that the paper records would be stored for a specific period.

Election Commission officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Commission said in April that a technical expert committee on EVMs met with representatives of the two government-run companies that make the EVMs, to discuss the issues related to the introduction of a paper trail for the voting machines.

The machines with "voter-verifiable paper audit trail" will now be tested in election-like conditions, it said on Tuesday. The simulated elections will be held in five states of the country.

The Commission has decided to request national and state parties to get involved in the trial process, and also witness the trial to have a firsthand experience of the system, it said.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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