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Behind AAP’s Delhi assembly EVM show: Two months of preparation, 25 dummy runs

The process took pace after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lost the Punjab elections in March but the team got “success” last week when they claimed to have “successfully” hacked a replica of an EVM.

delhi Updated: May 10, 2017 09:30 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kapil Mishra,Arvind Kejriwal,AAP crisis
AAP MLA from Greater Kailash Saurabh Bharadwaj demonstrates how an EVM can be manipulated at the special Delhi Assembly session convened by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.(PTI)

A team comprising an IIT graduate, tech experts and MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj, who is himself a computer engineer, were working for the past two months to crack the ‘secret code’ through which, the AAP claims, an electronic voting machine (EVM) could be hacked.

The process took pace after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lost the Punjab elections in March but the team got “success” last week when they claimed to have “successfully” hacked a replica of an EVM.

Party sources, however, refused to reveal the source of the EVM and how they prepared the replica but challenged the Election Commission to give them voting machines so that they could show how to hack them.

“People with lot of good intentions are behind it and part of our system. Exposing them will be dishonouring them,” said Bhardwaj.

Bhardwaj said after ‘breaking the code’ last week, the team carried out dummy runs at least 25 times. On Tuesday, after reaching the assembly, Bhardwaj and the team carried a test run to avoid glitches.

“If you see the chief minister’s tweet of the past few months, you will realise that we were working on this,” Bhardwaj added.

Sources said the look and feel of the EVM’s replica was changed before it was taken to the assembly. The sources said it was assembled.

“The EC also imports parts of EVMs from Japan and the US. There is no science behind it. In 2009, 4,000 EVMs were stolen in Vijaywada and some of them were later found in scrap. If an EVM can reach the scrap market then it can reach a technology enthusiast also,” said an AAP source.

Around 2:55 pm on Tuesday, Bhardwaj, after taking permission from the speaker, brought an EVM replica to demonstrate how it could be hacked.

“Because of the BJP, I left my engineering job and now, because of the BJP, I am again involved in engineering. Democracy is dependent on the election process and if a simple engineer like me can hack an EVM, then it can easily be hacked,” Bhardwaj said in the assembly.

The returning officer usually calls all candidates before the poll to shows that EVMs are safe. On the day of voting too, it calls polling agents and conducts a mock test.

“But it is during the voting process when EVMs are hacked. For instance, if the BJP changes the motherboard of an EVM earlier, a BJP member can enter the polling booth as a voter and enter the six-digit code, following which every vote cast will go to the BJP. There can be different codes for the party and for every constituency, the code needs to be different,” Bhardwaj added.

“If you give us the machine for three hours, leave the seat, you will not be able to win a single booth,” he added.

VV Rao, an election watch activist and the main petitioner in the PIL filed in the Supreme Court on EVMs, was present in the assembly. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia thanked him and said, “He has been our technocrat activist who is not only written book on EVMs but also fought the movement for eight years now”.

The PIL filed by VV Rao had questioned the functioning of EVMs and sought a direction to the EC to stop using them till the machines are made tamper-proof.

First Published: May 10, 2017 08:15 IST