Free and fair elections are cornerstones of democracy. In India, electronic voting machines (EVMs) were introduced with the objective of reducing electoral fraud. We exploit the phased roll-out of the EVMs in state assembly elections to study its impact on electoral fraud, democracy, and development.
Our main findings are:
- Introductions of EVMs led to a significant decline in electoral frauds, particularly in politically sensitive states which were subjected to frequent re-polls due to electoral rigging.
- It strengthened the weaker and the vulnerable sections of the society (women and the scheduled castes and tribe) who were now more likely to cast their vote.
- It made the electoral process more competitive whereby the winning margin and the vote share of the winning party declined.
- Using the luminosity data, we find that EVMs led to an increase in the provision of electricity.
- Lastly, we find evidence that EVMs resulted in significant decline in crimes, such as murder and rape (violence against women).
In India, the push into solar has been driven partly by a desire for cleaner energy sources, but also because there is more financing available for solar than for coal.