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Friday, March 17, 2017

How safe is the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) ?

EVM's used in India are exclusively made by two public sector companies 

Randomised selection by computer determines which machines will be sent to which constituency, said former CEC SY Quraishi 

After machines are sent out, the first-level check — months before polling — determines the proper functioning of EVMs. Party reps are present for the exercise

After final candidate lists are out, 13 days before polling,EVMs are again tested in the presence of candidate/party agent, who sign a certificate that EVMs are in order

Before dispatch to booths, EVMs are paper-sealed with a unique security number. Once it's on the machine, every candidate/representative has to sign on the seal

Mock poll before actual voting to check if buttons are rigged/malfunctioning

ways the doubters allege EVMs can be tampered with
 Ways EVM's Can Be Tampered with

Before polling

*Chips/components replaced with look-alikes that favour particular party (Possible without poll officials' role) 

*To beat mock drills, manipulation programmed such that it kicks in only once voting has been going on for a while. So, mock poll shows correct results, but final tally dodgy 

*A chip with a Bluetooth link placed in an EVM controlled from a mobile phone 

During polling

There are several alleged ways: Voter can't know vote reported the same as vote cast; Recorded votes never cast; No reliable way to detect errors in recording of votes; EVMs rigged to 'switch' votes between candidates

After voting

*Portable hardware devices can change vote records stored in the machines (Can be carried out by local officials)

*Physical seals on EVMs consist of stickers, string, and red wax (Not difficult to tinker with)

Points of Concern

'Insider fraud' by any authorised person with access to EVMs

Two PSUs, BEL and ECIL engage others, including foreign firms, to make EVM chips: this can be a potential hazard

Hacking of EVMs not apparently possible as these have no internet connection

Use of EVM's in Countries Other than India

Germany ended electronic voting in 2009 on grounds that the system lacked transparency

The Netherlands banned EVMs in 2007 after an anti-EVM group showed how the machines could be manipulated within five minutes without anybody spotting the fraud

In US, states that use electronic voting make a paper trail mandatory

England and France have never used EVMs

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