Election Commission to hold ‘EVM hackathon’ from June 3, invites all national, state political parties


New Delhi, May 20: The Election Commission of India will hold the ‘EVM hackathon’ from June 3 onwards. Chief Election Commissioner Naseem Zaidi announced the challenge would be kept open for all national and state political parties. “All interested political parties should inform the Commission about their participation by 5 PM on May 26,” the CEC said. The hackathon would be held at the ECI headquarters in the national capital.

ECI has planned two variants of challenge at the hackathon. The ‘Challenge 1’ would allow political parties to choose any four EVMs from any four polling stations which were used for polling in the recent assembly elections in Goa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Uttarakhand. The four EVMs could be chosen from any four states or any one among them. The representative of the political parties would be provided four hours to alter the results using any technical or electronic device.

The representative of political party would be deemed to have ‘failed’ if the EVM turns unusable, or the results obtained after his tampering attempt would be same as recorded earlier.

The ‘Challenge 2’ would allow political parties to prove that EVMs were hacked in recent assembly polls before they were used for voting. The Commission would provide the representative of a political party with sealed EVMs present in the strong rooms. The participants would need to alter the coding in such a manner that the EVM from a respective booth should record the same result as it did during the recent assembly election.

The participant of Challenge 2 would be deemed to have ‘failed’ if the EVM turns inoperative following the tampering attempt. The challenger would also be declared unsuccessful if the results of his mock poll is in accordance with the votes pressed by him.

Challenge 2 would be recorded using camera, in order to store the video footage of entire sequence, announced CEC.

Referring to the recent ‘hacking’ of EVM look-alike in the Delhi legislative assembly by AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj, Naseem Zaidi said, “The EVM with a different circuit would be another gadget, not the EVM used by ECI.” He further rejected the demand made AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal, seeking an EVM from the polling body to prove its claim.

“We cannot accept the demand because it is common sense that after changing the circuit of any device, it is a completely new device,” CEC said, further adding, “There is no question of any EVM used by ECI being tampered at the time of manufacturing.”

Election Commission said the challenge 1 and challenge 2 is being organised in order to “strengthen people’s faith in democracy”. CEC informed the press that the Commission was not triggered to organise the hackathon by the allegations of any political party. “This is not a matter of prestige or ego battle, the event is being organised not to counter anyone, but to re instill faith of people in Indian democracy. The ECI would never allow democracy to be weakened in any manner. Conducting free and fair elections is our utmost goal,” Zaidi said.

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