India manages to conduct elections for 900 million voters, with zero threat to cyber security.
How? Simple. No need to connect to the internet. In the US, despite the fact that many voting machines do not directly interface with the internet at all, they remain vulnerable to cyber attack due to the way that votes are transmitted to county election offices.
In India, machines operate based on specialized hardware and firmware rather than software, which regularly requires updates and patches. Machines run on two 6-volt alkaline batteries, completely circumventing the need for electricity or a network connection. “Each machine requires only a connection between a balloting unit and a control unit.”
It’s not to say that India is without any election security concerns at all. Theoretically, tampering could occur during machine manufacturing, testing or maintenance. In 2013, the Supreme Court spurred the Election Commission to create a ‘backup system’, in case votes were improperly recorded. As a result, Indian voters now receive a printed receipt indicating who they voted for. The receipt is verified by the voter, and then secured in a special box, in case of future discrepancies or disputes.
India does not allow private sector employees to help facilitate the election process, as “…it would be impossible to ensure their neutrality.” The Indian Election Commission, composed of 800 full-time staff members, is responsible for insuring that no person need travel more than two kilometers to a polling station. As a result, India’s voting machines are hauled across a vast and diverse landscape on trains, buses, cars, helicopters, boats, tractors, motorcycles, bullock carts, mules, elephants and camels. At the polling stations, it is not private security that safeguards the elections, but rather police or paramilitary forces.
Security is also enforced via 75,000 videographers, almost an equivalent number of photographers, and a division of 140,000 polling officials, known as micro-observers.
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