New Delhi, Feb 23: Polling for 2019 general elections will be conducted through paper trail-based electronic voting machines to "enhance transparency".
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi also said that voting through the internet is not on EC's agenda in the near future though it is going to use information and communication technology (ICT) in a big way to reach the voters in the coming days.
"We have reached a stage where people are demanding hundred per cent deployment of paper audit trail machine. We have preserved the secrecy (in this system) as well. Our plan is that by 2019, the whole country will be covered by paper audit trail machines.
The budget for this has been committed now," Zaidi said while addressing an international seminar today.
The next general elections are due in 2019. The paper audit trail machine or Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) was first introduced by the Commission in 2013 in order to enhance transparency in the polls process and increase electorate's confidence that their vote goes without error to their desired candidate.
Once the vote is polled, the VVPAT linked EVM immediately takes a printout and it is preserved for later use to tally in case there is a dispute in the final result.
Zaidi, who was speaking on the topic 'Leveraging Technology for Transparent and Credible Elections', stressed that secrecy of voters will be zealously preserved.
While the poll watchdog is taking full advantage of ICT for "recommending legislation" on providing electronic postal ballot facility to overseas Indian voters, the CEC said the same confidence cannot be expressed at present in the context of internet voting owing to security concerns.
For e-postal ballot, Zaidi said a "safe technology" has been developed and it is being "validated and tested currently...." "Employing internet voting or online voting is not our horizon in the long term because it requires serious consideration of challenges posed by technology.
"We have to weigh between perceived and actual benefits versus perceived and actual challenges associated with online voting, security and secrecy of voting alongwith encryption and end-to-end verification of voters are some of the most important consideration in online voting," he said.