Issue of EVM tampering stands closed, says CEC

3 Jun 2017

As many as 13 political parties had questioned the reliability of the EVMs, but when the Election Commission threw open a challenge to prove that the machines could be tampered with none turned up for the dare.

The two parties, the CPM and the NCP, which had accepted the challenge and appeared for the event held here today, also backed out at the last minute. In a post-event conference, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi maintained that the EVMs used by the EC are "non- tamperable" and with 100 per cent use of paper trail machines in all future elections the issue of tamperability of the machines "stands closed". With these remarks Zaidi made it clear that there would be no such challenge in future to test the reliability of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used by the poll-conducting body. Zaidi said although the NCP and the CPM reported at the challenge venue they backed out. The CPM said it would not like to participate in the challenge, while the NCP too decided to opt out after raising some questions regarding EC's "failure" to provide it with some details it had sought.

The NCP, however, has been extended another chance to return at a later date to hack the machines as an "academic exercise", the CEC said. The CPM said it did not wish to participate in the challenge but only wanted to understand the EVM process. "A detailed demonstration of the entire process was given to them by our technical team...The CPM team expressed complete satisfaction and suggested that to allay any such doubts the Commission should hold such demonstrations and awareness sessions with technical community proactively," Zaidi said reading out a statement.

The NCP team, led by party MP Vandana Chavan, said it did not want to participate in any challenge but was only interested in an academic exercise. She referred to her earlier request in which the party had sought to know the memory number and battery number of the EVM four days in advance. The EC said since the machines were sealed, they cannot be opened in the absence of party representatives, adding that the numbers could be accessed after opening the seals of the carry boxes at the time of the challenge. An NCP representative submitted a letter saying they cannot participate in the challenge because of non-provision of the information. In the letter the representative also flagged objection on "last minute" change in the EVM selection protocol by asking them to select an EVM out of the list of 14 EVMs brought for the challenge.