Telangana Initiates Dry Run Of Country’s First Smartphone Based eVoting Solution

 - Sakshi Post

Telangana has developed the country’s first smartphone-based eVoting solution considering the Covid-19 pandemic that has rushed the world into all-digital operations. The initiative has been driven by Telangana State Election Commission (TSEC) with the implementation support of the Emerging Technologies Wing of ITE&C Department, Govt. of Telangana, and the technical development by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).  The technical development has also been guided by an expert committee comprising Prof. Rajat Moona, Director of IIT Bhilai and Technical advisor to ECI, and professors from IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi. 

The initiative originated from the State Election Commission’s plan to enable ‘e-Voting’ facility to certain sections of voters such as Persons with Disabilities (PWD), Senior Citizens, citizens employed in notified essential services, sick people, polling personnel, IT Professional, etc. Hence, TSEC partnered with Emerging Technologies Wing, whose mandate is to support GovTech projects, to initiate the development and deployment of a project on a pilot basis by leveraging emerging technologies to ensure it meets the strict requirements of the voting process.

The solution has been successfully developed and tested, and its dry run in the form of a dummy election is being conducted in the Khammam district with the registration on the application open from 8th to 18th October, and the dummy voting on 20th October. Although the initial scope was limited to a subset of citizens, the dry run is open for all citizens of the district.

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 app, to be used for the dry run, is a Security Hardened Mobile Application to prevent tampering and also binds a device ID and phone number to a specific citizen registration process such that only the same device can be used during voting, thereby enhancing security by design itself. Further, the entire process can be monitored and controlled by the admin using a web portal, wherein the generation/access of results is further protected with the requirement of a physical security token based decryption. Additionally, the entire data is being stored in the State Date Centres (SDCs) as an added security consideration.

Shri. Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Government of Telangana, quoted that “Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain are two of the most versatile emerging technologies that already empower various of our GovTech projects. We are glad to have supported Telangana State Election Commission in this initiative of building an eVoting solution for our citizens and especially those that may face challenges with physical voting with or without the Covid-19 pandemic. The support and confidence of the election commission in such technologies is a testament to India’s growing strength in the field.”

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