The election commission (EC) on Tuesday dismissed the concerns raised by some political parties over the “efficacy and safety” of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), asserting the machines used during elections in the country are “tamper proof.”
Soon after the results of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections were declared, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) complained to the EC about the possible tampering of the EVMs. The Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress too follow the suit and demanded that the ensuing municipal polls in the national capital be conducted through paper ballots.
The Commission, which conducts all parliamentary and state assembly elections, ruled out the possibility of EVM manipulation, pointing out that in the past it invited petitioners who went to the court against the use of technology to “prove their charges”.
EVMs were first used nationwide during the 2004 general elections. Subsequently, the technology was used in all assembly polls and general elections in 2009.
A source told Hindustan Times that the EVMS were put on display in 2009-10 and those suspicious of the efficacy of the machine were asked to prove their point by hacking it.
“There were petitions filed in the high courts of Madras, Bombay, and Madhya Pradesh. We invited these petitioners to come and demonstrate their points before the commission. No one could show how EVMs can be manipulated. The commission is convinced that the EVMs are fully tamper-proof,” an EC official said.
Introduced after a prolonged political discussion, followed by administrative and technical consultations that began in 1979, EMVs have been credited by the commission for not only shortening the election process, but also helping in stemming malpractices such as booth capturing and bogus voting.
“The commission has already begun the process of introducing VVPAT machines along with the EVMs that produce a print out of the choice that the voter has made, which gets erased after a few minutes to ensure secrecy of the ballot,” the official said, explaining how the system is being further strengthened.
On the various videos that have surfaced on social media sites, alleging tampering of machines, The EC official said, EVMs in India are a standalone machine without being linked to any network and with no provision for any input.
The commission also stressed that there should not be any comparison with the technology used abroad, and the fact that several countries reversed to the paper ballot system should not be the basis to suggest that the technology used in Indian elections is faulty.
Another official said, the so-called hacked EVMs being showed in the videos did not use the same technology as is being used in India.
No country in the world has an access to the system used in India.
“Some of the countries gave up EVMs, because their machines were based on operating systems. The software in the EVM chip is one-time programmable and is burnt into the chip at the time of manufacturing. Nothing can be written on the chip once it is manufactured,” the official said.
Giving details of the procedure followed between voting and election results, the official said, machines are readied and sealed in the presence of the candidates and their agents.
“Thread seal are fixed on the EVMs, where again the candidates or their representatives put their own signature and seals. Paper seals guard against any unauthorized access to the EVMs after it is sealed. EVMs are then kept in sealed strong rooms with provision for the candidates to put their individual seals on the strong rooms. The EVMs are randomized twice over,” the official explained.