Hari Prasad, who was arrested last week for stealing electronic voting machines and released on Saturday, will present a controversial paper on how EVMs used in Indian elections can be tampered with at a conference on computer and communication safety.
The paper — Security Analysis of India’s Electronic Voting Machines — is based on the first unauthorised analysis of an Election Commission EVM and co-authored by Alex Halderman of University of Michigan and Rop Gonggrijp, a technology expert instrumental in getting EVMs banned in Holland in 1993.
The conference in Chicago in October will be co-sponsored by IT majors like Google and Microsoft.
The paper shows how EVMs can be tampered with either by insiders or by using portable hardware devices, including mobile phones, to extract and alter vote records stored in the machine. This, the paper claims, can be done either by replacing the chips or inserting an additional one when the machines are being shifted. The replaced chips can escape the security test of election officers.
“It is just a possibility,” Halderman told HT. “Our study does not show that any election has ever been stolen by tampering with EVMs… nobody can reasonably claim, based solely on the results we have presented, that an election now settled should be overturned.”
The first doubts were raised by BJP leader L.K. Advani, who suggested that the country revert to ballot voting. He got support from parties including the CPM, RJD, AIADMK and TDP, who also met election commissioners. The Congress said the EC had the final authority over the mode of voting.
The EC was quick to rebuff the claims in the paper. “The demonstration has not shown any tamperability in the EVM. The EVM cannot be tampered with by any method shown in the demonstration,” K.N. Bhar, a commission secretary, told Hari Prasad, in a letter dated August 7. “It is not possible to replace any equipment in the EVM in the election scenario.”
PV. Indiresan former IIT director and member of both the committees, said the EVMs were examined by independent computer experts and tested for security.