Skip to main content

"Barred" in several countries, top international media group questions reliability of EVM machines in India

An EVM tag found by AAP candidate Medha Patkar's workers on roadside
in Mumbai, about which she complained to the Election Commission
By Our Representative
World’s powerful online media chain “Huffington Post”, two days ahead of the Lok Sabha poll results, had said that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Indian polls could be easily manipulated. In an authoritative blog by Cleo Paskal, adjunct faculty, Manipal University, India, the HuffPost, as it is popularly called, said EVMs were unsuccessful in several countries of the world, including the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland, after they were found to manipulate poll results. Interestingly, Paskal said, the exit polls had predicted Narendra Modi would win the polls, and “the only thing that might stand in his way is an electronic voting machine (EVM).”
What makes HuffPost’s concern especially important is, this is the first major attempt by anyone to bring to light what is wrong with the EVMs, at a time when all political parties in India have “accepted” it as foolproof. Paskal says, “The problems with EVM security have been widely known since the large-scale irregularities in Florida during the 2000 elections. Many countries have moved to get rid of them.”
The write says, “As Florida voters (and watchers of Scandal) know, often elections come down to just a few precincts in a few constituencies. Those wishing to swing an election need only manipulate a few well-chosen machines. Less than that if the goal is just to ensure specific people gain or maintain their seats.” She quotesto CIA cybersecurity expert Steve Stigall to say, “wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to . . . make bad things happen.”
According to Paskal’s blog, titled “How Secure Are India’s Elections?”, “In 2006 Dutch TV aired a documentary showing how easy it was to hack the EVMs that were about to be used in their general election. The machines were subsequently withdrawn and the Netherlands went back to paper ballots. Germany has declared EVMs unconstitutional. And, after spending close to $75 million on its EVMs, Ireland found them to be so insecure they literally scrapped them.”
Paskal further says, “In 2009, Steve Stigall, a CIA cybersecurity expert, told the U.S. Election Assistance Commission there were concerns over electronic vote-rigging in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine. According to the McClatchy report on his testimony: '[Stigall] said that elections also could be manipulated when votes were cast, when ballots were moved or transmitted to central collection points, when official results were tabulated and when the totals were posted on the Internet.”
Coming to India, Paskal says, “Concerns about the Indian EVMs were raised during the 2009 election in part as a result of an astounding discovery on the Elections Commission of India (ECI) website. Dr Anupam Saraph, at the time Chief Information Officer for the city of Pune, and Prof MD Nalapat, Vice-Chair of the Manipal Advanced Research Group, discovered files on the ECI website that seemed to show election results days before votes were actually cast and counted.”
The writer says, “India's 2009 elections were held in 5 phases, running from April 16 to May 13. Counting was not supposed to begin until all the phases were complete. Before the voting started, Saraph and Nalapat decided to track the elections and create a wiki for constituencies and candidates, with data sourced from Excel files on the ECI website.
The ECI spreadsheets contained what you would expect: candidate's name, gender, address, party, etc. But, starting May 6, the spreadsheet changed and something unexpected was added.”
Paskal explains, “From May 6 onwards, the candidate's name was 'coded', based on their position on the EVM, and the number of 'votes polled' were added, even though voting had yet to take place in many constituencies and, even where voting had taken place, votes were yet to be counted. Even more confounding, the 'votes polled' numbers were adjusted in subsequent spreadsheets before the results were announced.”
“The team immediately alerted the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the ECI that it looked like their website was posting results before voting had been completed. The NIC responded within an hour confirming the observation and itself alerting the ECI. There was no response from the ECI”, Paskal says.
“On May 16, the election results were declared. On that day the spreadsheet on the ECI website contained candidate's name, gender, address, party, etc. just like on April 16, but with no votes cast data at all -- making pre and post election comparison with the peculiar 'votes polled' numbers impossible”, Paskal points out.
“Subsequently”, the writer says, “a team of IT specialists, including J. Alex Halderman from the University of Michigan, Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award winner Hari K. Prasad, and Dutch Internet pioneer Rop Gonggrijp, used an actual Indian EVM to demonstrate two ways it could be hacked.”
Pointing out that “only 8 of 543 constituencies in this election have a Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system”, the HuffPost blog says, “There have already been reports of serious EVM malfunction, with two machines reportedly transferring all votes cast to Congress. This is apart from the separate issue of inaccurate voter lists, which saw at least hundreds of thousands of voters being disenfranchised, resulting in an apology from the Election Commission, but no re-vote.”
The blog says, “Whatever happens with this election, there is going to have to be a serious rethink about how the ECI, and elections, are run in India. Those who have the upper hand this time, may not be so lucky next time. Do they really want to open that box? There can't even be the whiff of impropriety. In a country that believes in democracy, EVM rigging isn't stealing an election, it's stealing the soul of a nation.”

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure