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No Fear No Favour

RTI on EVM tampering raises serious questions; Hints EVMs aren’t tampered proof

ooks like the debate over the security of Electronic Voting Machines is not going to settle anytime soon. The Right to Information (RTI) now raises the debate on tamper-proof technology.

However, the Election Commission of India (ECI), from time-to-time, brushes off any allegation made over the security of the EVM and maintains the firm stand over EVM being tamper proof. The ECI also claims that it never uses the same machine once looted.

However, the Information provided by the ECI under RTI conflicts with the current statement of the officials. Under RTI, ECI has revealed that at least 70 cases of theft EVM across three states – Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – over successive elections.

During the training programme in Gujarat in 2007, reveals an instance where the trainer handed over the EVMs to another person and went for lunch. According to the information provided under RTI, “When he returned, the machine was found missing.” Investigation is on in the matter and lie detector tests have also been conducted.

The ECI maintains the stand that they follow the layers of security with EVMs. The officials said that if an EVM is stolen, it never makes it back into the system, so even the questions of it being tampered with remains out of the loop.

Activist Tehseen Poonawalla, who filed several complaints on EVM malfunctioning in different states, said, “The ECI has constantly shifted its goal post which has resulted in doubts being created in the minds of civil society activists and political parties. First, the ECI said EVMs just could not be hacked and promised to organise a hackathon, which they changed to a Sarkari demonstration. When we accepted the challenge to hack EVMs, the ECI once again changed the goalpost and said EVMs cannot be reached. The RTIs now prove that EVMs are being regularly stolen. This also means that the source code can be obtained through reverse engineering and results manipulated.”

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