The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) demonstration in the Delhi Assembly on Tuesday doesn’t reveal anything on tampering of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), the Election Commission of India (ECI) said. “It is common sense that gadgets other than ECI EVMs can be programmed to perform in a pre-determined way but it simply cannot be implied that ECI EVMs will behave in the same manner because the ECI EVMs are technically secured and function under an elaborate administrative and security protocol,” the Commission said in a statement released on Tuesday evening.
“Such so-called demonstration on extraneous and duplicate gadgets which are not owned by the ECI cannot be exploited to influence our intelligent citizens and electorate to assail or vilify the EVMs used by the Commission in its electoral process,” the statement added.
The EC’s response comes as it prepares the stage for the all-party meeting on EVMs on Friday. The EC, The Indian Express has learnt, is open to allowing political parties to choose the machine they wish to demonstrate hacking on.
“It has been decided that political parties will be given the option to select an EVM from any of the strong rooms across the five states, which have recently elected a government. The selected machines will be brought to Nirvachan Sadan (EC head office) and their technical experts can attempt to prove their allegations on them on the day of the ‘Open Challenge’,” a source said. Representatives of political parties will be informed about this proposal at the meeting called on Friday.
The EC has also decided to support Bombay High Court order on forensic examination of the EVMs used in the 2014 Assembly elections in Maharashtra. “We are not going to leave any stone unturned to restore faith in the EVMs,” the above source added. Such forensic examination is a first for EVMs, which had replaced ballot papers nearly two decades ago.
The all-party meeting is being called in wake of some Opposition parties questioning the infallibility of EVMs after they were defeated in elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab Assembly elections. Last month, a delegation of Opposition parties led by the Congress met the three election commissioners to urge them to revert to the ballot system of voting on the ground that the accuracy of EVMs is questionable.
The poll panel had written to the seven national parties and 48 state parties on May 4 inviting them to an all-party meeting in a bid to allay fears over hacking of EVMs. Political parties have been asked to send three representatives for the meeting of which one should be a technical or domain expert on EVMs. Following the Friday meeting, EC will throw an “open challenge” to all naysayers to prove their allegations of EVM tampering.
Sources also said that there could be a discussion on changes in the VVPAT recounting rules so as to instil faith in the electronic voting system.