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The impact of Electronic Voting Machines on electoral frauds, democracy, and development

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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).

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