Cover Story

This is how your vote is stolen

At the time of writing this analysis, three rounds of the staggered seven-phase general election have been completed. However, much of what was feared from the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) seems to be playing out in different voting booths in diverse parts of the country. Hundreds of thousands of voters have found their names deleted, EVMs have malfunctioned, and the Voter Verified Paper Trail (VVPAT), meant to preserve the EVM’s integrity, has not just stumbled, but also fallen short on its promised seven-second display after the casting of vote.

Women Must Vote

In 1967, the female voter turnout was lower than the male turnout by a whopping 11.3 percentage points. This gap remained intact through the subsequent decades, dropping only marginally to 8.4 percentage points in 2004. That gap dramatically fell to 4.4 percentage points by 2009. By 2014, it dropped even further to 1.8 percentage points. In parts of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and in all of Pondicherry, women voters outnumbered men, despite being lower in numbers.

‘Parliamentary democracy smothered in Maldives’

In the backdrop of an escalating political crisis and a purge initiated by Maldives’ President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Former Speaker of the People’s Majlis, Abdulla Shahid, speaks to Hardnews about the island nation’s growing proximity to China and the plight of its democratic system. Shahid, who played a key role in the Maldives’ transition to democracy in 2008, sounds an ominous warning for Maldives’ current regime which is indulging in a dangerous power play by pitting India against China. He also deliberates on how parliamentary democracy is being smothered in the Maldives, recounting his own experience of being prosecuted for entering Parliament, and stresses on the role the Opposition can play in challenging the prevailing narrative. The interview was conducted before Emergency was declared. 

‘Maldives is a failed state where no institution is working’

In the Maldives, the shelf life of Vice Presidents is very limited. Muhammad Jameel Ahmed was President Abdulla Yameen’s running mate and later Vice President. He was impeached in absentia on charges of terrorism. Hardnews spoke with him as he emerged from a gym in London, where he has been living in exile since 2015. Jameel was scathing in his criticism of President Yameen and how he had subverted democratic institutions to facilitate mass corruption. The former Vice President also said that Yameen was closer to China as they collaborated in his moneymaking enterprise and did not exert any moral pressure on him. These activities were difficult with a democratic India.