EVMs
EVMs being stored | PTI
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The Indian Journalists’ Association (Europe) is organising the event and says the unnamed expert is an EVM designer. Election Commission sticks to its stand.

New Delhi: Less than three months before the parliamentary elections, the Europe chapter of the Indian Journalists’ Association (IJA) is set to demonstrate how electronic voting machines (EVMs) can be hacked.

The demonstration will be held in London Monday, and the IJA has roped in a US-based cyber expert, who they say is also a designer of EVMs in India.

“His contention is these machines are not only hackable, but have routinely been hacked in recent Indian national and state elections so as to rig elections,” reads the IJA invite.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is not aware of the live demonstration in London. Ashok Lavasa, election commissioner told ThePrint: “We are not aware of any such demonstration, and we have always maintained that the EVMs used by the ECI in India are not tamperable.”

India has to elect its next government by mid-May, when the term of the current BJP-led NDA government ends. Government sources told ThePrint that election dates could be announced in the first week of March.


Also read: Four-member committee of oppn leaders formed to look into EVM manipulation


Shroud of secrecy

The IJA has refused to divulge what triggered this demonstration in London. In response to an email query from ThePrint, Ashis Ray, president of IJA (Europe), said: “IJA has nothing to say beyond the invitation that was sent to journalists.”

It is also tight-lipped about the identity of the cyber expert who will do the live demonstration. “For security reasons, we cannot at present disclose the identity of the cyber expert. He will be fully introduced to attendees at the presentation,” reads the IJA’s media invite.

However, the IJA has communicated the expert’s claim that with the help of EVMs actually used in recent Indian elections, he will show how these machines have been manipulated.

“The claim, if correct, could shatter the serenity over election processes, and have international ramifications,” the IJA said.


Also read: Chief Election Commissioner claims EVMs are tamper proof


EVMs in India

India switched to EVMs in 2004, completely getting rid of paper ballots that had to be counted physically.

Parties including the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have been challenging the reliability of the EVMs for a few years now. However, none have so far come up with proof that voting machines can be hacked.

In May 2017, Delhi’s AAP government held a live demonstration of how EVMs can be tampering with inside the Delhi assembly, showing how a machine can be programmed to favour a political party.

But then in June 2017, the Election Commission of India conducted an EVM challenge where political parties were asked to demonstrate how the machines can be tampered with. Just two parties—Nationalist Congress Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist)—turned up, and even they did not participate.

Amid constant complaints of EVM hacking from opposition parties, the ECI has now made it mandatory for every EVM to be attached to Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, to ensure there is no tampering.

But now, following the mega rally organised by West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata Saturday, a four-member committee of opposition leaders has been formed to evaluate the functioning of EVMs. The committee features the Congress’ Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Satish Chandra Mishra and Delhi CM and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal.

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11 Comments Share Your Views

11 COMMENTS

  1. No harm if the ECI deputes a senior official to remain present at this demonstration. It should be able to carry conviction with the entire political class that the EVMs are beyond reproach. To ask a counter question : How does it help an opposition party electorally if paper ballots are used instead ? Obviously the opposition gains nothing from making this an issue.

    • It’s undeniable that BJP + RSS have immense financial clout as well as control over autonomy of our institutions. So it’s good that opposition is bringing out its fears re EVM rigging. This is necessary for our existence as a democratic country.

  2. EVMs I think are not complicated machines. They perhaps use a pre-programmed ROM which holds the rudimentary software/program to advance a (vote) counter when the relevant button is pressed.

    If ROM carries a faulty program to advance one particular (vote) counter when ANY button is pressed, or to make it look genuine, advance the counter after 2 or 3 etc presses of other buttons, then one of the two things will have to happen: 1) the EVM manufacturer supplies machines fitted with faultily programmed ROMs, 2) a pocketful of faulty ROMs are available to some people who have access to EVM storage rooms, and they surreptitiously replace the original ROM of an EVM with a faulty ROM. Most likely the ROM will be soldered into a motherboard and not plugged into a chip socket, so replacement will be slightly laborious, involving desoldering and soldering of ROM chips — it will not be as easy as replacing a bulb, let’s say.

    So, according to my limited understanding, the EVM manufacturers will have to be guarded, and storage strongrooms will have to be guarded AFTER a check is carried out on EACH AND EVERY machine currently available with EC to ensure that they haven’t ALREADY been corrupted.

  3. It’s not a question of the opposition parties gaining or not out of using paper ballots, it’s a question of the reliability of using EVMs.

  4. EVM issue is very very imp for our democracy to survive. In a FPTP sys even one vote can ensure win for a candidate. It is for the sake of democracy EC must send a team of experts on EVM ( Manufacturer, Programmer, Chip Maker, Security Pers). I feel one of the ECs must attend the live show in London along with a couple EVMs wch are ready to be used in 2019 LS.

  5. Hacking involves external communicating with the electronic equipment being hacked. ECI has repeatedly said that no external communication is possible with Indian EVMs and so far nobody has shown that external communication is possible with Indian EVMs. The said demo in London can’t be with Indian EVMs. Then what is the purpose except anti-Modi propaganda.

  6. so you all fools are sure that papu and gang is going to fail.
    why this issue did not come when bjp failed in states

  7. Any election system can be hacked if given time and access.
    Paper ballot – how does one authenticate the ballot? Votes are anonymous. Were the ballots swapped? Was access and time given so that vote lists could be crossed off and ballots stuffed into the box?
    Counting votes – computers can be hacked and or viruses planted. The vote tallying software could be comprised. So lets manually do the math. But wait how does one authenticate the individual paper reports? They could have been swapped.

    Even currency can be forged if given time and access to the facilities.

    There are thousands of these voting machines. Is hacking each one individually practical?

    Youtube has videos on hacking the Indian voting machines. One method is to simply replace the display with one that can be controlled by a phone. Sure. Given time and access to thousands of voting machines.

    Maybe we should go to people standing in different areas to vote for particular candidates and officials count them. Intimidation? Reprisals? Threats?

  8. We know who is the “expert” that would “demonstrate” the “maifunctioning” of EVMs! It is RAUL GANDY!! When he can become a pilot overnight, why can’t he become a hacking specialist? Mind you, he is already a scam detector who can sense scams just by whiffing. That is the power of dynasty that ordinary people like Modi can’t understand. A fellow even after swallowing billions of dollars worth money of poor Indians has the courage to resurface as an innocent challenger & what is more he can unfold his vision for doing things that he couldn’t & didn’t do while he was in power & yet he could ‘demonstrate” that he could get people & media to support & believe him, he must be remarkable indeed!

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