AAP says EC backing out of voting machine’hackathon’
New Delhi, May13:The Aam Aadmi Party reiterated its stand that Electronic Voting Machines could be hacked even as the Election Commission, in an all-party meet on Friday, threw a ‘challenge’ saying it will allow parties the opportunity to show that EVMs used in the recent Assembly elections were tampered.
Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said parties will also be allowed to prove that EVMs can be hacked under the strict technical and administrative safeguards that are applicable during elections.
AAP national convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal argued on the nomenclature used to term the challenge, saying the EC was backing out of a ‘hackathon’. “Sad that EC has backed out of hackathon,” Kejriwal tweeted on Friday.
With Opposition parties up in arms over alleged EVM tampering, the Election Commission on Friday held an all-party meet that was attended by all recognised national parties and most state political organisiations.
At its meeting on Friday, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi delivered a keynote address to underline the EC’s stand that all its voting machines – whether from the 2001, 2008 or 2013 series – were tamper proof.
The commission said it will allow parties to prove that the Electronic Voting Machines used in the recent five-state Assembly election were tampered. Parties will also be allowed to attempt tampering with machines as long as the EVMs are under the same technical and administrative safeguards that are applicable during elections.
The all-party meet, which also discussed other electoral reforms, saw a debate over the definition of a hackathon. AAP contended that the EC use the term ‘hackathon’ to describe its challenge to political parties. EC officials, however, countered saying that since no internet or remote access to the EVM was involved the event could not be termed a ‘hackathon’.
Delhi deputy chief minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia said this amounted to the EC backing down from a hackathon. Election commission is asking us to prove that used EVM were tampered, this is not a hackthon, Sisodia said, adding, ‘Give us a fresh machine, call experts from IIT…and allow them to hack the EVM.’
At the all-party meet, CEC Zaidi also said all future Lok Sabha and state assembly election will feature the use of paper trials. As a backup, the EC will also count a particular percentage of the paper slips dispensed by the Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines that will attached to EVMs. The percentage of paper slips to be counted will be determined by the EC.
The meeting also featured a discussion on the use of money power in elections. Most parties recorded their opposition to the decision that corporate companies will no longer be required to name parties to which they make donations. The parties also opposed a proposal that the EC be allowed to countermand elections in cases of voters being bribed on a large scale. The parties argued that proving the use of money power is difficult.