ELECTION COMMISSION officials in Punjab have rubbished the allegations of Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal regarding manipulation of electronic voting machines (EVM).
Speaking to The Indian Express, VK Singh, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Punjab, said the EVMs are 100 per cent safe and nobody could manipulate these machines to influence results. “There are several safeguards for the EVMS which have been vouched for by technical experts and in which we have implicit faith.
Also, there are adequate administrative protocols in place, too, which make it impossible for these machines to be manipulated in any way whatsoever,” he said.
Senior officials associated with the just-concluded electoral process in Punjab said there were two aspects to the safety and security of EVMS — technical and administrative — and on both these counts, the machines have stood the test of time. “There is a technical committee comprising professors of IIT Mumbai and Delhi who have evaluated the hardware of the machines and have categorically said that these are tamper proof. The chip in the machine is fused and is made for only one type of programme as a ‘stand alone’ machine. There is no other part in it which can be used to connect any outside unit to it other than provide access from the ballot unit to the control unit. No blue tooth or Wi-Fi influence can be used on it,” said an official.
Another senior official, who did not wish to be named, said there were inbuilt safeguards in the hardware which functions on the principal of ‘keep it simple stupid’ or KISS. “In one minute, not more than five votes can be cast and even if somehow someone were to have control over the unit, he would not get time to cast enough votes in a short period of time,” he said.
The CEO informed that even after conclusion of the polls, the EVMs were being kept in safe custody and guarded by security personnel. He informed that even the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines and their printouts are being kept in safe custody as there is a time period of 45 days in which election petitions can be filed by candidates. When asked about the demand of AAP leaders that the VVPAT printouts be audited, the CEO said this could be done but this matter would come within the purview of the court.
Further debunking the claims that the voting pattern could have been influenced to the disadvantage of AAP candidates, a poll official said that well before the machines are dispatched to polling booths, 1,000 mock votes are cast on any random five machines out of a lot of 100 top check their functions. In this mock voting, the candidate or his nominated agent is present. “The polling staff also does not know which EVM would be sent to which polling booth and this is decided in the presence of the election observer through a random draw by the computer a day before polling,” he added.
On the day of polling itself, a mock poll of 50 votes is carried out on all machines in the presence of the candidate or the nominated agent to check any adverse function. “We had received only one complaint regarding the function of a VVPAT machine where a person said a vote had been cast for the wrong party.
However, when the complaint was checked, it was found to be false,” said a senior official.