Wednesday, January 26, 2022
HomeEditorialEVM tampering always a debatable subject

EVM tampering always a debatable subject

Amid row of EVM scandals, BJP leaders are hell bent on saying that the machines cannot be hacked. But way back when the same party was in opposition, some BJP leaders went on writing volumes on how EVM is a threat to democracy. Book authored by Subramanian Swamy, a BJP MP titled “Electronic Voting Machines: Unconstitutional and Tamperable” is still available online. Another BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao, who thought democracy is in danger with EVM authored “Democracy At Risk! Can We Trust Our Electronic Voting Machines? Hypocrisy is at its best. EVM can be hacked or not is always a debatable subject, but the thing worth noticing is that when BJP was in opposition they were too much against EVM and now the same leaders are refuting the claims of Congress stating that the EVM is the safest way of voting. Now they don’t want to talk about, are Indian Elections Free and Fair in the Age of EVMs? EVMs have already been banned in many countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and Italy, and the list is getting longer. Thus, there is a growing lack of confidence in EVMs the world over. Why should India persist with a failed system that has been abandoned worldwide? The risk of wholesale rigging inherent in EVMs, howsoever small, cannot be accepted in a democracy where the stakes in winning elections are so high. These books by BJP leaders were once eye-openers but now they have been hidden from showcase because they have no place to hide their face.

Though, the fact is that with time the modifications are also done with the EVMs. Principally, VVPAT was added as a feature to the EVMs. Existing EVMs were subject to some shortcoming. Voters were unable to confirm if their vote has been cast correctly. With VVPATs, once the vote has been cast, a small paper trail is printed that shows to which party did your vote go to. The printed-papers are available only for 5 seconds and then drops in a box, which is managed by Election Commission. This method was introduced to further minimize the shortcomings in the EVMs and make them near foolproof. Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is a fetterless verification system which provides recompose to the voters using a ballot less voting system which is implanted in voting machines designed to detect any possible election fraud or malfunction. For the very first time in Uttar Pradesh, a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) has been introduced by the Election Commission, which was used in polling booths for the recent assembly polls. In conventional EVM there is no record of the name of candidate or party is stored. EVMs only count number of times a button is pressed. Sometimes some machines get malfunctioned so at the time of counting faulty machines are not counted and if the number of faulty machine crosses specific number, re-election is done.

Post elections there is always uproar, in our country were not very long ago electoral booths were captured and ballots stuffed as a regular feature. The EVMs helped but far more than that was one strong man called T N Seshan who made every politician tremble. He tightened the choke chain and turned things around. Thanks to him we had a strong EC, where everything was within rules.

EVMs helped speed up the process and secure it against rowdy shouters. It’s the human army and strict supervision that makes the elections free and fair.

The noise about “hacking” EVMs is only coming from an opposition party, before 2014 it was always BJP who questioned the reliability of these machines. When BJP came to power now the opposition is aggressive on attacking EVMs. However, I don’t think this will stop any of the parties from using hacking as an excuse to hide their electoral failures. They can make any claims without having to prove them. Social media has gone crazy after the telecast of recent exit polls by all TV news channels. They gave the utmost majority to BJP and UPA in comparison to that predicated as nowhere. So, this much is enough to create a ruckus. Thousands of video clips are shown claiming that the EVMs are stored in some placed, additional EVM’s are replaced by managed ones. People are given an impression that the BJP has almost manipulated votes towards their win.

There was also a rumour that EVMs can be hacked so that no matter which button you press the vote will go to the same candidate. The chance of above happening is the same as an elephant passing through the hole of the finger ring. On the day of commissioning and polling the political party can themselves cast their votes randomly and verify that the vote has actually gone to the candidate for which they have voted. Since the numbers of votes are already communicated to the political party, therefore, if extra votes were cast then it would reflect on the day of counting. After the polling, the Presiding Officer presses the CLOSE button. Once this button is pressed you cannot cast extra votes unless a CLEAR button is pressed. Guess what, this button is surrounded by two unique paper seal containing the signature of both PO and political agents. There is no way you can reach this button without breaking the seal. The machine also records the time of the last vote polled. Every Presiding Officer gives a diary (called Presiding Officer Diary) in which the end time of the poll is recorded. If someone tries casting extra votes then there would be a mismatch in the time of closing which can be easily identified on the day of counting. So if you manage to take away polled EVM in your house, it will be of no use! Moreover, with the introduction of VVPATs, there is a second level check. Political parties can randomly select a machine and ask us to verify all votes cast by counting slips inside VVPAT. This is the beauty of the election process in India. If one has to play foul then there are other ways and means but for that, one needs to have entire administration, manufacturers and resources under their feet…which is again highly impossible in the era of social media. So, chill and relax till 23rd.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 14 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News (international). She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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