Now a question mark should be raised on EVM, it has already passed the ordeal 42 times

Ananya Shroff
10 Min Read


New Delhi: It was June 1977, when Shamlal Shakdhar was made the Chief Election Commissioner of the country. The looting of polling booths gave him the idea of ​​conducting general elections electronically. Shakdhar then asked the government to explore the possibility of using electronic machines in elections. Eventually, his idea bore fruit. In May 1982, elections were held in Kerala's Peravayur assembly seat, in which for the first time, electronic voting machines (EVMs) were used instead of traditional ballot papers at 50 of its 123 polling booths. However, since then, questions have been raised about hacking of EVMs and breaches in its security. EVMs have had to go through a litmus test again and again. From the Supreme Court to the Election Commission, everyone has declared EVMs clean. After the results of the Lok Sabha elections, the opposition parties have again put EVMs in the dock. In this controversy, questions were also raised on the electronically transmitted postal ballot system. The government, the opposition, the Election Commission and SpaceX owner Elon Musk, sitting thousands of kilometers away, also jumped into this controversy. Let's understand the whole story.

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What is Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System?

Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) is for service voters. It is used in place of ballot papers. However, votes are never sent electronically. Ballot papers from ETPBS to service voters are sent electronically in encrypted form, with a variety of passwords and PINs. After receiving and downloading, the voter casts his vote on the postal ballot. It is then sent to the concerned Returning Officer through post.

Who are those new MPs on whose victory Rahul Gandhi asked questions, know what is the whole matter?

What was the procedure for voting by service voters earlier?

Earlier a ballot paper was printed for every service voter. Then it was put in an envelope and sent to the address of the service voter. This used to take a lot of time and money. Now the same ballot is received by the service voter through mail in encrypted form.

Process for service voters begins from commission's portal

The Election Commission has created a portal for ETPBS on which the concerned election officer can log in. To log in to the portal, the Returning Officer sends an OTP to the registered mobile number of the concerned election officer. The Returning Officer then prepares a password protected postal ballot for the concerned constituency, where it is downloaded. From there it is sent to the concerned service voter.

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Postal ballots will be counted before EVMs

Postal ballots are counted before EVMs. Before counting, the unique serial numbers written on the envelopes of the ballot papers are matched. After this the counting officer logs in to the ETPBS.

EVM

What did the Commission say in the Supreme Court regarding EVMs?

In response to similar allegations in 2017, the Election Commission had issued a press release saying that EVMs are not computer controlled. It is just a machine, which is never connected to the internet or any network. In such a situation, EVMs cannot be hacked with a remote device. Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi has also termed the talks of hacking in EVMs on different media platforms as baseless. Delhi University professor and election analyst Rajiv Ranjan Giri says that EVMs were first used in 1982, since then about 42 years have passed. However, during this time EVMs have had to undergo Agni Pariksha at least 42 times. Repeated allegations or questions weaken constitutional institutions. Now this should stop, because the country can no longer go back to conducting elections with ballot papers.

EVM

What did the Election Commission say on the allegations of the opposition in 2019?

In 2019, a poll panel was formed to answer the opposition's allegations of EVM hacking. Then the poll panel had said in its report that EVM is tamper proof. Tampering with it is possible only when there is physical access to it and the sealing process of EVM is stopped. According to Nishikant Kolge, professor at Maulana Azad Urdu University (MANNU) in Hyderabad and associated with CSDS, tampering with EVM is not possible under any circumstances. The big reason behind this is that it cannot be connected to any internet or Wi-Fi. It is being made an issue unnecessarily. The Supreme Court and the Election Commission have also given it a green signal many times.

nishikant college

Candidate's relative's phone was connected to EVM: Congress

Actually, Congress had tweeted about a candidate from Mumbai and said that a serious case related to EVM has come to light. In Mumbai, the mobile phone of a relative of NDA candidate Ravindra Waikar was connected to the EVM. This NDA candidate won by just 48 votes. In such a situation, the question is why was the mobile of the relative of the NDA candidate connected to the EVM? How did the mobile phone reach where the votes were being counted? There are many such questions which raise doubts. The Election Commission should give clarification on this.

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OTP not required for EVMs: Election official

Vandana Suryavanshi, election officer for Mumbai North-West constituency, said, “EVMs do not require any kind of OTP. This news is false. It works only by pressing the result button. The Election Commission has followed its procedure. A defamation notice has been issued to the concerned newspaper.”

This uproar started with a tweet from Elon Musk

Actually, this debate on EVM started with a post by SpaceX owner Elon Musk. Musk's post was not about India. Musk had posted a post in response to the social media post of former US President John F Kennedy's nephew and independent candidate in the upcoming US elections, Robert F Kennedy. In this, Robert F Kennedy had questioned the role of EVM in the primary elections held in Puerto Rico, America and said that fortunately there was a paper trail in it, which helped in identifying the problem. On this, Musk had said that we should eliminate electronic voting machines. Humans or AI (Artificial Intelligence) can hack it. The risk of hacking it is very high.

Chandrasekhar's reply to Musk: EVMs do not have Bluetooth

Former Union Minister Rajiv Chandrashekhar hit back at Musk's statement. He said that there is no truth in this statement. EVMs have no connectivity, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi, no internet, no method. There are factory-programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed. Electronic voting machines are well designed, as India has done. There may be a possibility of EVMs being hacked in other countries including America, where standard computing platforms are used to create internet-connected voting machines. However, Musk, while responding to Chandrashekhar's post, said – anything can be hacked.

EVMs in India are like black boxes: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that EVMs in India are like a 'black box' which no one is allowed to examine. Serious questions are being raised on the transparency of the electoral process in our country. When there is a lack of accountability in institutions, democracy becomes a sham and becomes a victim of fraud.

rahul gandhi

Akhilesh said- the upcoming elections should be conducted using ballot papers

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said about EVMs- Any technology is meant to solve problems. If it becomes the cause of problems, then its use should be stopped. Akhilesh has been raising questions about EVMs earlier as well.

Akhilesh Yadav

Akhilesh said, today when there are apprehensions of EVM tampering in many elections of the world and the world's renowned technology experts are openly writing about the danger of EVM tampering, then what is the reason behind insisting on the use of EVMs. BJP should clarify this. We again reiterate our demand to conduct all the upcoming elections through ballot papers.
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