Challenge that wasn’t: EC closes EVM matter

“With the conclusion of today’s challenge and EC’s assurance to cover all voting machines with paper audit trail in future, the issue of EVM tampering stands closed," said CEC Nasim Zaidi.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:June 4, 2017 4:50 am
EVM challenge, Election Commission, Nasim Zaidi, Voting machines news, Election Commission of India, India news, National news, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi.(Express Photo )

The Election Commission (EC) wound up its ‘EVM challenge’ on Saturday with neither of the two participants, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), coming forward to ‘tamper’ the voting machines.

“With the conclusion of today’s challenge and EC’s assurance to cover all voting machines with paper audit trail in future, the issue of EVM tampering stands closed. We are open to receiving suggestions to improve the machines,” Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi told reporters after the four-hour exercise wrapped up at 2 pm.

The poll panel chief, however, refrained from calling this a victory. “We won’t term the outcome of today’s EVM challenge as ‘success’ or ‘failure’. It’s an ongoing exercise in improving the conduct of polls,” he said, adding that representatives of the NCP and CPM did not wish to participate in the challenge.

The CEC said members of the CPM delegation only wanted to interact with the Commission’s Technical Expert Committee, following which they “expressed complete satisfaction and suggested that to allay any such doubts, the Commission should hold such demonstrations and awareness sessions with the technical community proactively”.

As for the NCP, the CEC said, “NCP mentioned that the source of their doubts was alleged problems with EVMs during municipal elections in Maharashtra.

The Commission clarified that EVMs used by the state election commission for urban local body elections do not belong to the Election Commission of India (ECI). The NCP team expressed its willingness to opt out, requesting the ECI to evolve a system which clearly distinguishes ECI EVMs from State EC EVMs.”

Responding to queries by reporters that NCP representatives claimed the exercise was an “eye-wash” and they were not allowed to hack the machines, Zaidi said that they had ample opportunity to take on the challenge and they still have an option to come back and attempt the challenge again.

For Saturday’s challenge, the Commission arranged 14 machines that were recently used in the Assembly elections held in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The NCP and CPI(M) were the only two parties that registered for the challenge, with both parties nominating three persons each for the challenge. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which blamed its recent electoral losses on “rigged EVMs”, had opted out of Saturday’s challenge.

As per the framework for the challenge announced by the EC on May 20, to prove allegations of tampering or hacking, challengers had to demonstrate that poll results can be doctored by either pressing a combination of keys on the Control Unit or Ballot Unit of the EVM or both, or by communicating with the EVM through an external wireless device or bluetooth or mobile phone, over four hours. Neither the NCP team nor the CPM delegation attempted to do so.

The CPI had approached EC for permission to observe Saturday’s exercise, but it was turned down. Questioning the EC’s “motive”, the CPI on Saturday said the Commission’s approach was “against the spirit” of its invitation letter seeking cooperation from political parties. Zaidi, however, justified the decision on the ground that the challenge framework did not provide for observation.

The EVM challenge was held to allay apprehensions regarding the machines, which have been in use since 2000. Over the last 17 years, EVMs have been deployed for conducting 107 Assembly elections and three Lok Sabha polls.

The machines were also at the centre of a controversy in 2004, after the BJP was shocked by the Congress in that year’s general elections. The controversy has been revived by Opposition parties that were routed in the recent Assembly elections in five states. The BSP was the first to complain, with Mayawati alleging that largescale EVM tampering was behind the BJP sweep in UP. Later, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenged the EC to make EVMs available to the party for 72 hours and claimed that “we will read the code and rewrite it too”.

AAP had opted out of Saturday’s challenge after the EC did not accept the party’s request to change the motherboard of the machines to demonstrate hacking. “Allowing any change of the motherboard or any internal circuit of the EVM is like saying that anyone should be permitted to manufacture a new machine and introduce newly made EVMs in the EC system, which is implausible and irrational,” the EC had said while turning down AAP’s request.

AAP held a press conference on Saturday to announce its own hackathon, which will be held this month. Zaidi, however, refused to comment on the announcement.

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  1. K
    KAPIL DEV
    Jun 4, 2017 at 3:35 pm
    EC SHOULD NOT BOTHER ABOUT THE BARKING OF DOGS LIKE KEJRIWAL AND CONGRESS ITS ALLIES . THEY WANT EXCUSE FOR SLAP ON THEIR FACE BY THE ELECTORATE IN THE ELECTION AS THEIR END IS DRAWING NEAR LIKE THE DEEPAK WHICH IS NEAR THE END PUFF BLUNTLY SAME IS THE ENTIRE POSITION OF OPPOSITION PARTIES WHO ARE NEGLECTED BY PUBLIC MAKE SURE THEIR PRESENCE BY BARKING UN NECESSARY TO EVOKE PUBLIC ATTENTION THAT THEY ARE ALIVE MAY BE ON VENTILATOR . ?.
    Reply
    1. D
      DILIP
      Jun 4, 2017 at 8:30 pm
      You are absolutely correct. As long as the BJP is doing well the EC has he bhakts behind them. No cause to worry.
      Reply
    2. R
      Ritik
      Jun 4, 2017 at 2:23 pm
      Suppose in a state there are 100 embly seats. So 50 seats required for simple majority. Suppose party A thinks it can win 25 seats on it own. Another 25 seats may give them majority. Say they decide to tamper EVM in 40 seats to make sure that they get majority. In India on an average there are 100 booths per embly seat. In each of these 40 seats party A selects say 3 booths for EVM manipulation. The maximum votes polled per booth is usually on average about 1300. In these 3 booths if Party A decide to press in the secret code after say 100 votes are polled, vote transferring would happen for the remaining 1200 votes. If 1000 of these gets transferred from the main opposition party B, then Party A would not only get atleast1000 extra votes buy it will reduce the votes of party B also by 1000. So the net gain for party A is 2000 votes per booth. So in 3 booths the net gain for Party A is 6000 votes.
      Reply
      1. R
        Ritik
        Jun 4, 2017 at 2:24 pm
        So at the least party A would get at least 30 seats extra which will ensure them majority. If Party A is lucky, it may win all the 40 seats. If a party man goes into to the booth as a voter to type in the secret code, then the number of people required for carrying out this state wide operation would be just 120 people. In case, when EVM is initially tampered, if a micron size chip is attached in the mother board which receives signals from an external device to which secret code is fed in, then only very few people (< 10) are required manipulate election through out the entire state.
        Reply
      2. J
        Jim
        Jun 4, 2017 at 1:29 pm
        Democracy: 1 AAP: 0
        Reply
        1. R
          Ritik
          Jun 4, 2017 at 2:26 pm
          EC: 1 Indian People : 0
          Reply
        2. A
          Ashish Moulik
          Jun 4, 2017 at 12:03 pm
          Are the face of old party, they only pretend to save our country ,but when on crucial moments they turn their face off. This is the fate of our country.
          Reply
          1. A
            Anand Prakash
            Jun 4, 2017 at 11:55 am
            The EC needs to explain why the machines which were found 'defective', all registered the votes in favour of BJP no matter which button was pressed. This cannot be a mere coincidence.
            Reply
            1. S
              SJ
              Jun 4, 2017 at 11:02 am
              So the people commenting here that tampering of EVMs is possible and that too by BJP alone and rest of the parties sit back and watch, also as per them entire EC functionaries are corrupt and just helping BJP for tampering EVMS in their favor. Bunch of people who can't do any constructive work and just keep criticizing. Please use your brain that it is not possible at such m level. In my opinion those people themselves are corrupt and think that entire system is corrupt. First change yourselves and do some constructive criticism instead of destructive. If one cannot contribute and work for nation building, please don't demotivate people who are doing great job by putting false allegations.
              Reply
              1. R
                Ritik
                Jun 4, 2017 at 2:31 pm
                EC keep repeating that EVMs cannot be tampered as they are kept in tight security. EC is ru out the possibility of EVM tampering by influencing officials of BEL/ECIL or the chip manufacturer, even before EVMs are given to the field. EC is also ru out the possibility of EVM tampering by influencing EC officials. However what the EC fails to acknowledge is that the BEL/ECIL/EC officials are human beings, who cannot for long withstand the pressure from top officials or directly from the ru party. In BEL/ECIL or in EC itself, specific people may get appointed in specific posts to carry out activities as required for the ru party. People may also be bribed by promising huge amounts of money or be threatened with dire consequences including kil or wiping off family. Any human being however upright he is, would finally suc b to sustained pressure.
                Reply
                1. R
                  Ritik
                  Jun 4, 2017 at 2:32 pm
                  However i won’t say that all EC or BEL/ECIL officials are corrupt. However few corrupt officials are more than enough to get secretive things done which can turn the results of an election upside down. For winning election parties don’t even hesistate to kill hundreds of people, or incite riots, or arouse communal passions, or make castes fight each other. They will do any thing possible and will take any risk to win elections. So it is obvious that even if slightest of chance is available, parties will not let go the opportunity to do EVM tampering. For winning elections, parties buy out the media and spends thousands of crores of rupees for propa a. It is foolish to think that they will not spend this amount to corrupt some EC people or EVM manufacturers technicians.
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                  Ajaypal Sidhu
                  Jun 4, 2017 at 10:59 am
                  After the emergency by Indira hi, someone said this about the media - "They were asked to bend but they decided to crawl". Aptly fits today's EC. Where has the EC come from the golden days when it was thought of as one of the few incorruptible ins utions of the nation !
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    RS
                    Jun 4, 2017 at 10:59 am
                    BJP needs these untrustworthy EVMs that can be hacked and BJP needs an Election Commissioner that it can control. Now BJP has both so there will be no stopping the BJP from stea elections.
                    Reply
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