Thursday, January 24, 2019

EVM hacking - the truth

The EVM hacking theory is flawed for several reasons.

Let’s list them out:

    AAP had won nearly 96 per cent of the seats in the 2015 elections with precisely the same EVMs. Congress has since won 4 states using the same EVMs. If the machines were hacked, should re-elections be done?

    I was a candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and few days before the poll, scores of our volunteers were called for ‘EVM checking’. They were allowed to select machines randomly and press buttons multiple times to confirm that their votes were being registered correctly. Some volunteers pressed an assortment of buttons across various machines, and each time the result was correctly registered.

     Of all the machines we tested, only one proved to be faulty—when volunteers repeatedly pressed the button against my name, the vote was transferred to a nondescript independent candidate. As soon as we pointed this out, the officer promptly replaced the machine. That’s when I came to understand the kind of rigid standards and care that was taken by the independent EC to ensure that elections were fair.

    Even if there happen to be a few faulty machines, this does not amount to a case of massive rigging. Maybe some machines might be sending that faulty vote to a BJP candidate. To discredit out EC and democracy based on some faulty machines is undermining our country.

5  Machines are individual sets (like a calculator, using its own algorithm) that cannot be influenced from outside, by wi-fi etc. Therefore EVM cannot be mass influenced, nor changed without physical contact with each individual machine.

    During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 9,00,000 EVMs were being protected day and night by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), election officers and political workers across all parties. To suggest that EVMs, despite being under such scrutiny, were having their motherboards tampered with was unrealistic.

As a corollary, there were thirty-four lakh permanent and temporary employees as part of the election exercise. It is impossible to conceive of any party being able to arm-twist all of them into ignoring physical manipulation of EVMs. India is a noisy, contradictory nation and not a homogeneous political group and even a small group of 4/5 people would have different political opinions. So, lakhs of people keeping quite or complicit in this is not correct. Some whistle – blower could have exposed if there was something hidden. Many retired Election Commissioners have been anti-govt, but no one has made any such ridiculous claims.

 In several constituencies across Punjab and Goa, where AAP made allegations of the ruling party hacking EVMs, the maximum seats went to the Congress. Did the BJP manipulate the results so the Congress could win?

In many of the cases, opinion polls and especially exit polls have been reasonably accurate. But opinion poll and exit polls are not made on EVM, why do they match?

   I had done some serious study of EVM and their possible misuse in 2017.  The results of all the 1,642 polling stations in the 40 assembly seats of Goa as well as those in 33 assembly seats in Punjab that had VVPAT (voter verified paper audit trail)—an independent verification method in a ballot-less voting system which allows voters to check that their vote has been cast correctly. Connected to the EVM, the printer-like apparatus generates a receipt indicating the symbol and name of the candidate a voter votes for. After being visible to the voter from a glass case in the VVPAT for some seconds, the ballot slip is cut and dropped into a drop box in the VVPAT machine and a beep is heard. VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only. The VVPAT rolls are taken out for counting only if a candidate, his election agent or counting agent (in the candidate’s absence) applies in writing to the returning officer (RO) to count the printed paper slips in any or all the polling stations.

1  As per counting data of the 33 VVSAT constituencies of Punjab, the Congress got the largest number of votes in 20 seats, followed by SAD (ShiromaniAkali Dal) and AAP which emerged victorious in 6 constituencies each. A lone seat went to the Lok Insaaf Party. This showed little variation with results in other constituencies having EVMs without papertrail. As we know, while the Congress emerged as the single largest party with 77 seats, AAP got 20 seats and SAD secured 15 seats.

 .  Neither AAP’s candidates nor AAP itself approached the courts with their complaints, which should have been the obvious course of action.

 . When the EC, to call the opposition’s bluff, scheduled an open hacking challenge for EVMs, the opposition did not participate. Instead, it sought permission to physically handle the EVM and change the internal circuitry of the machines, which was turned down by the EC on grounds that it was ‘irrational and implausible’.

The hue and cry against EVM is just a drama. In my next round, I shall write about who and why are some people trying to discredit EC.

1 comment:

Ritz said...

And dont forget... Congress won in 2004 and 2009 when EVMs were used.