The Election Commission will hold the much-awaited hackathon from June 3 where technocrats and representatives of political parties will be invited to try and hack into its Electronic Voting Machines. The open challenge is the poll panel's attempt to counter the Aam Aadmi Party which claims that EVMs were rigged to favour the BJP in recent assembly elections in five states and MCD polls in Delhi.
As it happened:
The commission will further welcome suggestions and complains related to EVMS... The commissions will make sure that they don't give a fine line of doubt in the mind of the people... EC rubbishes the claims of EVMs getting tampered... All the machines are stand alone machines, They can't get connected to the internet, there is no chance of hacking...There is no frequency receiver... Therefore, no tampering can be done via wireless devices, says Zaidi
Professor Rajat Moona, director IIT Kharagpur and a member of EC tech committee on EVM speaks to CNN-News18's Sumit Pande : "Once you change the motherboard, it's no longer EVM. As far as software is concerned any access to make alterations in the software is burnt at the time of manufacturing. The chip is non-rewritable"
RECAP | Former Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla questioned the EVM stunt by AAP and asked where did the machines come from." Heard a demonstration was made in Delhi Assembly how EVMs can be hacked....My question is where did these machines come from?" said Chawla. Chawla said, surely, these machines cannot be the ones issued by the EC.
How are EVM’s safeguarded against fraud?
Every EVM has an identity number attached to it, which is recorded in the Election Commission’s database. This ID is cross-checked against the database when it is being transported to and from the election booth. This process is done before the counting of votes begins. The machines are guarded by central forces between the period of voting and counting.
How did Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) come into the picture?
The Supreme Court in October 8, 2013, on a PIL by Subramanian Swamy, directed the EC to introduce the VVPAT system in a phased manner so that full implementation is achieved by 2019. It was done to ensure free and fair polls as it would aid in resolving disputes if any. On a national level, the system was introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies during the 2014 general elections. It was used in 516 polling stations across eight states. The system first experimented in 2013 Nagaland by-polls.
Here’s a timeline of elections when allegations against EVMs surfaced:
- 2009 General Elections: BJP, through Subramanian Swamy, had alleged that if the party doesn’t perform well then it would, primarily be due to the fact that the EVMs “could have been tampered with”.
- 2009 Odisha elections – Senior Congress leader JB Patnaik alleged that the BJD had won the election by bribing candidates and tampering EVMs.
- In 2014 General elections, Congress leader and Assam CM Tarun Gogoi said that BJP indulged in EVM fraud.
- In the latest, after 2017 UP assembly polls, Mayawati has claimed that it was only because of EVM machines being tampered with that BJP has emerged victorious.
What’s the machine made of?
It’s a single unit machine, which works on batteries without any network connectivity. They are made up of two machines, one is the control unit and the other is the balloting unit. A presiding officer is in charge of the control unit and once the vote is ready to be cast, the officer activates the balloting unit. The voter then presses a button to register their vote for a particular candidate. The machine can record 64 different candidates at one point of time. The maximum number of votes that can be recorded in one machine is 3,840.
What is an Electronic Voting Machine?
It is a simple electronic device used to record votes. EVMs have been part and parcel of elections in India since 1999 and was adopted across all polls from 2004. It seeks to reduce time in casting vote and declaring results. Of course, from an environmental point of view, it helps save paper.
Senior officials of the Election Commission appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Personnel and said the EVMs are tamper-proof and very reliable. Over the last 23 years, the commission has successfully conducted 107 Assembly and three Lok Sabha elections using EVMs, officials told the panel. Since September 2013, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines have also been used in the various state assembly and Parliamentary constituencies for enhanced transparency and credibility in the voting process, they said.
RECAP | At an all-party meeting on May 12, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had said political parties had to demonstrate their claim that EVMs used in the recent assembly polls could have been tampered with. In 2009, the Commission had held out a similar challenge when it demonstrated the functioning of EVMs brought in from various parts of the country to Vigyan Bhavan.
RECAP | The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP and the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had alleged that EVMs were tampered with in the February-March assembly elections in five states and the just-concluded Delhi civic polls. The AAP has demanded that the poll panel returns to the paper ballot system, where people can ink their choices on a sheet of paper.
The Election Commission had dismissed this assertion outright saying the machine used by Bhardwaj was a prototype of an EC-EVM and therefore could be used to demonstrate "any magic" or tampering. The EC will also demonstrate the use of EVMs and paper trail machines at a media conference on Saturday. "We will announce the schedule for this challenge to EVMs tomorrow (Saturday)," an EC spokesman had said on Friday.
The Election Commission will on Saturday announce the date for the much-awaited hackathon after a live demonstration of its own to prove that its Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are tamper-proof. The demonstration comes weeks after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) claimed to have successfully hacked into an EVM when its MLA, Saurabh Bhardwaj, gave a point-by-point demonstration on ways to rig the voting machine at a special session of the Delhi Assembly.
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