Telangana to dry run first smartphone based eVoting solution


Telangana has developed India’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 Emerging Technologies Wing of Information Technology, Electronics and Communications Department, Government of Telangana and the technical development by 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 section of voters such as Persons with Disabilities (PWD), senior citizens, citizens employed in notified essential services, sick people, polling personnel, IT professional etc.

TSEC partnered with Emerging Technologies Wing, whose mandate is to support GovTech projects, to initiate the development and deployment of 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 Khammam district with the registration on the application open from October 8 to 18, and the dummy voting on October 20. Although the initial scope was limited to a subset of citizens, the dry run is open for all citizens of the district, officials said on Wednesday.

The solution leverages Artificial Intelligence for a three-factor authentication of valid voter 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 record. 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 number 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, said an official of IT, E&C Department.

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.

“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 Covid-19 pandemic. The support and confidence of election commission in the such technologies is a testament of India’s growing strength in the field,” said Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Government of Telangana.

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