The Election Commission held the ‘EVM challenge’ where political parties have the opportunity to prove hacking of electronic voting machines (EVMs). The nod to the challenge came after the Uttarakhand High Court dismissed a petition that had questioned the constitutionality of the event.
Petitioner Ramesh Pande had contended that the EC’s move was in contravention of Article 324 of the Constitution and was therefore ultra vires. As per section 80 (a) of the Representation of the People Act, only the high court had the prerogative to organise a hackathon like this, he argued.
PTI reported that the NCP and the CPM, the only two participants in the event, were yet to try their hand at hacking the machines even after three hours. The challenge began with a detailed demonstration of the security features of the EVMs. While seven national parties and 49 state parties had been invited to the challenge, only NCP and CPI-M agreed to participate. 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.
At the same time, the Aam Aadmi Party, which had raised complaints of tampering of the machines following its defeat in the Punjab and Goa polls, launched its own hackathon. It put out a registration form for those interested to attend but stopped short of announcing the date of the said hackathon.
The party said technical experts and representatives from other parties, Election Commission and the companies which produce the EVMs are invited to the event. The machine that will be used in the exercise will be the one that was shown by MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj during his demonstration in the Delhi assembly last month, which the EC had called a ‘look-alike’ and not an ‘ECI-EVM.’
The AAP’s request of an ‘open hackathon’ was shot down by the Election Commission after it asked for removal of some of the restrictions it had placed in its EVM challenge. The party called EC’s EVM challenge today an ‘eyewash.’