Hours after the Election Commission held the EVM hackathon challenge on Saturday, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said that while CPM said they don’t want to participate in challenge but wish to understand the EVM process, NCP team informed they too don’t want to participate in any challenge but were only interested to participate in an academic exercise. In a press briefing today, CEC Zaidi was quoted by news agency ANI as saying: “CPM team expressed complete satisfaction and suggested that commission should hold such demonstration and awareness sessions proactively. NCP team informed they too don’t want to participate in any challenge but were only interested to participate in an academic exercise.”
Speaking on NCP’s allegation about faulty EVMs during Maharashtra civic polls, CEC Zaidi said: “NCP mentioned that source of their doubts has been alleged problems with EVMs during municipal elections in Maharashtra. Commission clarified that EVMs used by state election commission, Maharashtra for urban local body elections do not belong to EC.” There were widespread allegations that the voting machines were rigged prior to the civic polls. He also explained why the NCP team want to opt out of challenge: “NCP team expressed willingness to opt out requesting ECI should evolve system which clearly distinguishes ECI EVMs from State EC EVMs.”
Meanwhile, the NCP put the blame squarely on the poll panel for its non-participation. The party said, it opted out because the EC did not provide “required information” on voting machines and “changed the protocol” of the exercise at the last minute. A three-member NCP delegation led by party’s Rajya SabhaA three-member NCP delegation led by party’s Rajya SabhaMP Vandana Chavan also said the commission did not give theteam an option to pick the EVM of their choice. Chavan said the party was not provided with theinformation they asked for “again and again” i.e. the numberof the memory unit and the battery used in the EVMs. “We feel they were crucial for the exercise,” she said.
The EVM challenge began today morning with a detailed demonstration of the security features of the voting machines. Only NCP and CPIM agreed to participate in the challenge out of the seven national parties and 49 state parties invited initially. Representatives from both parties were given four machines and four hours to hack into it. The machines were brought from Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh where recent Assembly elections were held.