The Election Commission (EC) is mulling to announce an open challenge to try and manipulate the functioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs) to dispel doubts raised by various political parties. A senior EC official in the state said that in 2009, it had given a similar challenge, but no one who had claimed to have the requisite expertise to influence the functioning of EVMS could demonstrate the same.
“There will be a meeting of technical experts regarding the hardware and software of the machines, following which a call may be taken by the EC to do a repeat of the 2009 challenge to prove that the EVMs are tamper-proof and under no circumstances can they be misused in favour of any political party or candidate,” he said.
After the recently concluded Assemble elections in UP and Punjab, leaders of several political parties, including Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Samajwadi Party (SP), have made statements casting doubts over the efficacy of EVMS and calling for a return to the old system of paper ballot. “In the 2009 challenge, the persons professing the knowledge of hacking the machines had been called for a demonstration at the EC headquarters in New Delhi and asked to do whatever they could to the machines to influence the voting results. However, each such attempt had come to a naught because the manipulation was detected while operating the machine and hence the claims were found to be baseless,” the official said.
He added that the criteria for the challenge would be that the machines would be available at the EC headquarters and that anything that needs to be done to them would be allowed there and then only. “Certain persons had asked that they be allowed to take away the EVMs, but this is not permitted. The basic contention is that even if some attempt to influence the outcome of polling in an EVM is made, there are enough safeguards, technical and administrative, to detect the intrusion,” the official said.
Election officials said even if the machines were manipulated and, in hypothetical situation, the act went undetected, it would still not be possible to influence the voting pattern because the serial number of candidates on the EVMs is decided by the first alphabet of the name of the candidate.