Skip to main content

EC under cloud post-Guj polls: Suspicion around EVMs exacerbates as insiders say it can be "compromised"

By Our Representative
Amidst growing fear that the Election Commission (EC) of India has reached "the lowest point" in its history, especially after TN Seshan, as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) in the first half of 1990s tried to turn in into "an independent institution", the smell of suspicion around EC appears to have exacerbated both among general public and sections of intellectuals, not excluding top officials, following the Gujarat polls.
Things have gone so far that it is not just maverick leader Hardik Patel, Patidar quota leader, who is ringing the alarm bell around the electronic voting machines (EVMs) having been compromised. While a large number of voters Counterview talked to during Gujarat polls wondered if EVMs were "reliable", a top Gujarat government insider went so far to tell Counterview that he has " checked" with software engineers who tell him that EVMs' functioning can be easily compromised hacked.
"I was told that all one needs to do is a small change in the software of the chip inserted into EVMs by just adding one line -- transfer a certain percentage of votes, say two or five or six, from one party to another", this insider said.
While the view that the EC has been "siding" with the Modi government has already many takers, including SY Quraishi, previous CEC, who called refusal to announce election dates for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in October an EC "error", insisting, it "invites questions" and "could undermine EC’s credibility", top psephologist Yogendra Yadav has said, Gujarat elections have "highlighted the growing fragility of EC."
According to him, "The inexplicable delay in the declaration of a polling schedule, double standards in responding to media coverage of Rahul Gandhi, and BJP leaders accentuated the suspicion that the EC has been packed with loyal officers", adding, "Besides shrinking autonomy, EC also suffers from lack of professionalism."
Accusing it of oscillating between "spinelessness and knee-jerk over-reach", and questioning the "quality of appointees", Yadav says, today EC "faces new challenges for which it is professionally ill-equipped: production and supervision of EVMs, regulation of social media, checking of tax accounts of political parties..."
Already, reports have appeared in a section of the media quoting one of the manufacturers of EVM chips, Microchip, as admitting that though its "products are among "the most secure... on the market today, ...dishonest and possibly illegal methods" could be used to "breach the code protection feature". Microchip insists, "Code protection does not mean that we are guaranteeing the product as unbreakable."
Meanwhile, a keen citizen has raised a major flutter around chief electoral officer, EC, BB Swain admitting during a media interaction that a "mismatch of some votes" on one booth each on four seats during the scrutiny of EVMs and Voter Verified Paper Trail (VVPATs) because of a human error by the Returning Officer was "resolved" by counting VVPAT slips.
Through a series of tweets, one Ravi Guatam (@gautamravi168) calculates, "There was mismatch between EVM and VVPAT slips on four out of 182 seats" in Gujarat state assembly, which suggests "more than 2% mismatch". Calling 2% vote share "questionable" because it is six lakh votes, Guatam says, for verification of EVMs "EC randomly selected one booth per seat for VVPAT slip counting".
He argues, "Why one booth per seat is illogical? On an average, 5,000 votes can change the result, i.e. votes from three booths. On an average, there were 275 booths/constituency", hence there was a huge "probability of detecting fraud", adding, "In general, the average victory margin in state assembly is 5,000-6,000 votes" and "the entire result can change within the error margin of the EVM system."
Noting that he has not talked of hacking, Gautam says, he has calculated that there would be "1,102 possible mismatched booths in 182 constituencies", which means "approximately six mismatched booths per constituency" because "one EVM can store around 3,800 votes."
"Assuming" on an average EVMs were half filled, the total number of questionable votes per seat would be 11,400, Guatam says, this is based on the the premise set by EC, which takes one booth per constituency as representative sample. But there are in all 50,128 booths, he says, adding, applying the mismatch to all would give the result: "Questionable booths = 4*50,128/182 = 1,102."
Gautam wonders, "EC accepted that there were 4 mismatch and used VVPAT slips for counting, but what about other 1,098 booths? The debate about democracy should be between citizens vs governments, not BJP vs Congress. Congress may not take this up seriously because it will put a question mark on their 80 seats in Gujarat election and Punjab victory."

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).