Updated April 1st, 2024 at 20:13 IST

How can AI improve the security of electronic voting systems?

Amid the 2024 General Elections set to begin this month, here is how AI is poised to have positive as well as negative repercussions on the process.

Reported by: Business Desk
AI and elections | Image:Republic Business
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AI in elections: India is among more than half of the nations entering polls this year. What also marks these elections differently is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in these elections, which will have both positive and negative ramifications.

The world’s largest democracy uses electronic voting majorly, with paper ballots confined to remote areas.

 “While there will be many factors and issues influencing the elections, one of them would be the influence of AI and GenAI around the same. How we use this powerful technology could influence and decide many facets of the electoral process,” according to AI expert and the UK-based consultancy TechWhisperer’s founder Jaspreet Bindra.

Elucidating on the positive use of AI in the electoral process with the use of electronic voting machines in India, he said AI can be used to enhance transparency, inclusivity, and efficiency in elections.

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure security Agency, AI capabilities present opportunities for increased productivity, potentially enhancing both election security and election administration.

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“Additionally, the advanced data analysis capabilities of AI can monitor and analyse election-related data in real-time, identifying any irregularities suggesting fraudulent activity. AI algorithms can detect patterns of irregularities in voter registrations or ballot submissions, identifying potential concern areas,” he added.

Electronic Voting Machines, a portable electronic instrument with microcontroller-based design for a safe and secure way of voting, has often been embroiled in tampering concerns.

AI can improve their security, Bindra said, dispelling any concerns of foul play. Threat detection algorithms can also help identify and counter potential cyber threats, he added.

GenAI and electoral awareness

With the emergent technology of generative artificial intelligence posing concerns of misinformation and deepfakes, Bindra said Gen AI can help uplevel voter education and awareness by generating hyper-personalised content on candidates and their manifestos.

Additionally, this can be done in their local dialect and related issues in their local constituency issues, with the personalised approach a means to boost political awareness and informed voting  among marginalised or disengaged groups.

“GenAI can help do this at scale with much lower costs and higher efficiency, thus empowering candidates who have lower access to capital,” he said.

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With the electoral process an inclusive process irrespective of gender, demography and the special needs of people, Bindra said AI can also  enhance accessibility for voters.

“For instance, AI-powered voice recognition systems can assist visually impaired voters in casting their votes independently,” he said.

These changes and the progression of AI has also helped in gauging public opinion across multiple demographic groups, with representations across society sections for being part of the political conversation.

Recently, Google and Meta have also partnered with fact checking partners across the globe for combating misinformation during elections.

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Cost-efficiency

The electoral process, being a cost-intensive process, incurred an estimated Rs 5.5 lakh crores in 2019. 

But with the deployment of AI, Bindra expects logistics involved in the electioneering process to undergo cost-optimisation, which can make voter registration and verification more efficient and eliminate long queues. 

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Challenges ahead

But consumers must be wary of targeted messages for manipulating public opinion during elections, deepfake technology and shaping online opinions by selective amplifying of messages and campaigns during the electoral process.

“The microtargeting through personalised messages, advertisements, and misinformation that are designed to exploit their vulnerabilities or biases happened with Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 elections in the US,” he said.

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Another threat to the electoral process, according to him, is AI-generated bots which are hard to distinguish from humans, and can create the illusion of grassroots support which eventually spreads misinformation in masses. 

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Published April 1st, 2024 at 17:58 IST