Election Commission of India reaffirms EVMs cannot be tampered

Although there has barely been any shred of evidence to show that any election held recently was subject to electoral fraud through a manipulation of EVMs, Election Commission of India(ECI) has to give repeated assurances by of the robustness of the administrative and technical safeguards in place to prevent EVM tampering.

Universal implementation of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) that allows for a layer of verification to the electoral process is an improvement to EVM.

Non-Tamperability of EVMshas been reaffirmed by the Election Commission of Indiain a Press Note dated 22 January 2019 in the wake of the motivated controversy attempted to be created by one so called ‘cyber expert’ Syed Shuja, who organiseda press conference in London on Monday 21 January 2019claiming to demonstrate EVMs used by ECI can be hacked, and the 2014 LokSabha elections were rigged.

Delhi Police has also registered a case, “Based on a complaint received from the Election Commission, an FIR has been registered under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (intent to cause fear or public mischief) at Parliament Street police station. Action will be taken as per the law,” a senior police officersaid on Wednesday 23 January 2019. In its complaint, the poll panel had asked police to investigate the matter “promptly” for violation of certain IPC sections dealing with spreading rumour to “create fear” in the minds of people.

Election Commission of India firmly standsby fool proof nature of ECI EVMsand hadreiterated vide its Press Note of 21 January that these EVMs are manufactured in Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) under very strict supervisory and security conditions and there are rigorous Standard Operating Procedures meticulously observed at all stages under the supervision of a Committee of eminent technical experts constituted way back in 2010.

Technical Experts Committee (TEC) members – Prof D T Shahani, Prof Emeritus IIT Delhi and Prof RajatMoona, Director IIT Bhilai and Prof D K Sharma, Prof Emeritus IIT Bombay (Mumbai), have reconfirmed to the ECI today that:

  • ECI-EVMs are stand-alone machines designed to connect only amongst ECI-EVM units (Ballot Unit, Control Unit and VVPAT) through cables that remain in full public view. There is no mechanism in ECI-EVMs to communicate with any device through wireless communication on any Radio Frequency. All versions of ECI-EVMs are regularly and rigorously tested against low to high wireless frequencies. These tests include and go beyond the standard tests specified for electronic equipment.
  • ECI-EVMs are regularly tested for proper functioning under all kind of operating conditions.
  • ECI-EVMs are also regularly tested for code authentication and verification.

TEC clarified that VVPATs use thermal printers which can print only on one side of thermal paper. The print is fully visible through the viewing window. The paper rolls used in VVPATs have only one-sided thermal coating and hence can be printed only on one side. The VVPAT paper print lasts at least for five years.

CMDs of Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited, who are the sole manufacturers of EVMs and now also VVPATs, also reaffirmed that all the TEC prescribed Standard Operating Procedures are scrupulously adhered to and observed.

It is however reiterated that while ECI-EVMs might malfunction sometimes like any other machine due to component failures and stop working, but even such a malfunctioning ECI-EVM would not record any vote incorrectly. It is reaffirmed that ECI-EVMs cannot be tampered.

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