Questions have been raised against the Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs, the device that India use to conduct elections. Doubts spurred whether EVMs can be manipulated and they are at risk of being tampered by the ruling party. Politicians and activists, especially the Congress party have made the allegations whether EVMs are being transported with proper security or not.
Questioning the EVM amounts to insult of democracy https://t.co/y43GOCouOS
— Rajat Sharma (@RajatSharmaLive) May 22, 2019
What is EVM? When was it introduced? Advantages and disadvantages
Before going into the details on the conspiracy, let’s understand the EVMs first. EVM is also called Electronic Voting Machines. It was developed and tested by state-owned Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) in the 1990s.
EVMs got introduced between 1998 and 2001 in a phased manner. Since 2004, electronic voting machines are getting used in all general elections and all state assembly elections of India.
Advantages of EVMs
- A significant benefit of having EVMs in the elections is cost cutting.
- Though the initial investment is massive, the production and printing costs of ballot papers have significantly reduced.
- Transportation and storage costs are less compared to ballot papers.
- Significant reduction in hiring the number of staffs for the duty of the election.
- Remuneration for the staffs and other costs have reduced with the introduction of EVMs.
- Counting of votes is happening quickly because of the ease EVMs provide.
- Bogus voting has significantly reduced as the vote counts only once in the machine.
- Illiterate people find EVMs more comfortable than ballot papers.
- EVMs will store the results in its memory until it gets erased manually.
- The battery is required to activate the EVMs at the time of polling and counting, and it can be switched off once the process gets over.
- There’s no way of tampering the machines without physical access as the device is not connected to the internet, and it is a simple machine like the calculator.
- The shelf life of Indian EVMs is estimated at 15 years.
Limitations of EVMs
- A candidate can identify how many people from a particular polling station has voted for him/ her.
- The ECI states that EVMs would display the overall results from an assembly or Lok Sabha constituency instead of votes from individual polling stations.
Why Congress and their alliance UPA is complaining?
From the past few years, Congress and their alliance UPA have been complaining about EVMs malfunctioning frequently. They complain that whatever button you pressed, EVMs record the vote for the BJP. But, the Election Commission of India has denied their allegations and stated the EVMs are hack-proof and cannot be manipulated easily.
However, there are reports being circulated on the internet that EVMs being transported without the appropriate level of security by defying the Election Commission of India guidelines.
In Haryana’s Fatehabad, a truck load of EVMs entered the strong room without any verification of documents.
As per EC guidelines, till counting is over, any to & fro movement of EVMs (to/fm strong rooms) should be in the presence of political party reps
— Ravi Nair (@t_d_h_nair) May 20, 2019
A jeep filled with EVM hovering around the Saran and Maharajganj Lok Sabha constituencies of Bihar, which was hiding near the stroller room, was caught by the RJD-Congress workers. Along with that there were also Sadar BDOs who have no answers. Will @ECISVEEP act on this ? pic.twitter.com/koDF7VQFEd
— AAP Bengaluru (@AAPBangalore) May 21, 2019
EC guidelines on return of EVMs – both polled and unused reserved. pic.twitter.com/PrXCLi3bML
— Dr. S.Y. Quraishi (@DrSYQuraishi) May 21, 2019
What is BJP and their NDA parties opinion on the issue?
BJP, however, countered the conspiracy saying it is a Congress-sponsored conspiracy and EVMs favouring BJP claims are false and they further said, Congress is having doubts on their election results, that’s why they are simply complaining the Election Commission on their integrity.
Election result hasn’t been announced yet but Opposition has already started blaming:
– Elections in Ramazan
– North Indians
– Foreign influence (last time they blamed MOSSAD)
Won’t be surprised if they start provoking for Violence in Country
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) May 21, 2019
What are Election Commission of India and the manufacturers saying?
Election Commission of India has clearly stated that EVMs can’t be tampered. EVM security protocol is so strict, whenever a strong room has to be opened, representatives of all political parties have to be there, machines are taken out in their presence, the mock poll is also conducted, OP Rawat, Former ECI Chief said to ANI.
OP Rawat, Former Chief Election Commissioner: EVMs can’t be tampered with. EVM security protocol is so strict whenever a strong room has to be opened, representatives of all political parties have to be there, machines are taken out in their presence, mock poll is also conducted. pic.twitter.com/4RViiapums
— ANI (@ANI) May 22, 2019
Manufacturers of Electronic Voting Machines, namely Electronics Corporation of India Limited, Hyderabad and Bharat Electronics Limited, Bengaluru have said that EVMs are unhackable and tamper-proof as programming for EVMs is done at a secure manufacturing facility in ECIL and BEL (where operations are logged electronically) and not with chip manufacturers. Control and ballot units in EVMs and VVPATs have an anti-tamper mechanism by which they become non-operational if it is illegally opened. EVMs are standalone machines, have no radio frequency transmission device features, operate on battery packs and cannot be reprogrammed. The control Unit of EVMs has a real-time clock that logs every event on it right from the time it was switched on. The anti-tamper mechanism in the machine can detect even 100-millisecond variations.
Can EVM be hacked? No, absolutely not. Since EVMs are not connected to the internet, it would need physical access to make any alterations or tampering. Remotely accessing the EVMs and hacking is impossible as the machine is not “networked”, no operating systems, no Bluetooth connectivity or wifi connectivity, nothing. Electronic Voting Machine is a straightforward device with a one-time programmable chip. It’ll record and save the voting data until it gets erased manually.