The Election Commission will organise its “EVM challenge” beginning June 3, 2017 when political parties are invited to prove EVMs with the EC or those used during the recent Assembly elections could be tampered with, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi announced on Saturday. The challenge is expected to remain open for 4-5 days.
There will be two challenges: The Challenge 1 is for general demonstration on claims of “tamperability” and the Challenge 2 is for showing whether EVMs used during recent polls were tampered with.
The EVMs to be presented for the challenge will be in the same manner as they remain in EC custody after polls, he said.
“The challengers can press any key to tamper with the machine, use WiFi, Bluetooth or Internet device,” he said. “Claimants will have to tamper with the machines kept in exactly the same scenario in which they are kept by EC under technical and administrative safeguard, to prove that EVMs used in recent Assembly elections were tampered with.”
He added: “Each party can nominate three persons for the challenge, political parties have to confirm participation by 5 p.m., May 26, 2017.”
Only those nominated would be allowed to participate in the challenge with only four EVMs used in the recent Assembly polls from the EC vault will be used for the challenge.
“The nominees can ask for EVMs from any Assembly constituency, they will be allowed to travel along with the machines while being brought to the demonstration site to ensure that they are not touched by anyone else,” Mr. Zaidi said.
Nominees must be Indians and the participants will be allowed to open the EVM only for inspection to confirm that components are that of the EC’s.
The proceedings will be logged and videographed. “EVMs can be opened for visual inspection during the challenge to prove machines used in recent Assembly polls were tampered with,” he said adding that they could also be opened if EVMs stop working during such attempt or the challenger fails to demonstrate. However, changing of EVM components like the motherboard would not be allowed as the CEC said it was not possible under the current EC safeguards — technical and administrative.
Mr. Zaidi said though some political parties raised doubts about EVM security, no concrete proof has been produced. “The Commission received complaints from over 100 people, they have been told to furnish credible evidence, none of them have provided the proof so far,” Mr. Zaidi said.
“VVPAT machine to be used in all elections henceforth,” he said.
While asserting that EVMs could not be manipulated, Mr. Zaidi said improving election process is responsibility of all stakeholders. “Replacement of internal circuit of EVMs is not possible. Our EVMs have strong technological features and are tamper-proof,” he added.
Ahead of the announcement the Election Commission conducted a live demonstration of the workings of the EVMs and VVPAT machines.
On May 12, 2017, the EC held a meeting on the issue of electoral reforms, including EVM security. It gave a presentation on features of EVMs and use of VVPAT machines to assert that they could not be tampered with given the administrative measures adopted to secure them.
At the all-party meeting, Mr. Zaidi said political parties had to demonstrate their claim that EVMs used in the recent Assembly polls could have been tampered with.
In 2009, the EC had held out a similar challenge when it demonstrated the functioning of EVMs brought in from various parts of the country to Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.
At the all-party meeting, most parties said EVMs could be used for future elections if they came with a paper trail machine, which would enable the electorate to check if their vote had been registered against the person of their choice.
Some parties, however, said the EVMs could not be trusted and the EC should revert to the old ballot paper system, where people inked their choices on a sheet of paper.
(With PTI inputs)