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Telangana launches a test run of the country’s first smartphone-based eVoting system

By,Indrani Sarkar

Hyderabad: Telangana has created the country’s first smartphone-based eVoting solution in the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic, which has forced the globe to become all-digital. The Telangana State Election Commission (TSEC) spearheaded the effort, with the Emerging Technologies Wing of the ITE&C Department of the Telangana government providing implementation support and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing providing technical development (CDAC). Prof. Rajat Moona, Director of IIT Bhilai and Technological Advisor to ECI, and academics from IIT Bhilai served on an expert group that supervised the technical development.

The proposal arose from the State Election Commission’s aim to provide e-Voting to specific groups of voters, including PWDs, Senior Citizens, citizens engaged in recognised vital services, ill persons, polling workers, IT professionals, and others. As a result, TSEC collaborated with the Emerging Technologies Wing, whose purpose is to assist GovTech initiatives, to begin the creation and deployment of a project on a trial basis using emerging technologies to ensure it fulfils the stringent voting process criteria.
The solution leverages Artificial Intelligence for a three-factor authentication of valid voters viz. Name Matching with Aadhaar, Liveness Detection of Individual, and Image Matching with EPIC Database (with up to 15~20-year-old records). Further, Blockchain (Distributed Ledger) technology has been used to secure the de-identified and encrypted votes so that they are maintained as immutable records. The smartphone application follows a minimalist design approach and supports both English and Telugu, and also has a detailed help section with tutorial videos and helpline numbers to aid the citizens.

The ‘TSEC eVote’ Android software, which will be used for the dry run, is a Security Hardened Mobile Application that prevents tampering and also links a device ID and phone number to a specific citizen registration procedure, ensuring that only the same device may be used when voting. The entire process may also be watched and managed by the administrator through a web interface, with the generation/access of results being further secured by the use of a physical security token-based decryption. Additionally, as an extra security measure, the entire data is kept in State Data Centres (SDCs).

“Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain are two of the most flexible new technologies that already enable different of our GovTech initiatives,” said Mr.Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Government of Telangana. We are pleased to have aided the Telangana State Election Commission in developing an eVoting option for our residents, particularly those who may encounter difficulties voting in person due to the Covid-19 epidemic or otherwise. The electoral commission’s backing and confidence in such technology demonstrates India’s rising strength in the sector.”