Sabotage smells in UP polls: EVMs could be tampered or set favourably, says IT expert

EVMs
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New Delhi, March 11: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati wrote to Election Commission asking to instantly stop the vote counting and announcement of Uttar Pradesh results. The BSP chief also demanded to hold fresh polls using paper ballots.

“The shocking result of the assembly elections indicates that the EVMs accepted votes only in favour of the BJP,” Mayawati told a press briefing here.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said that the occurrence of manipulation of the EVM machines had been raised earlier also but no one paid attention to it.
“After the results in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, all opposition parties should think about it more seriously,” Mayawati said.
“Most votes in Muslim majority constituencies have gone to the BJP, which makes it obvious that the voting machines were manipulated. How can it be possible that even after not choosing a single Muslim contestant from Muslim-dominant area, did the BJP won that seat?” Mayawati asked.
Mayawati dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, to conduct the elections through ballot paper to know their real position in Uttar Pradesh.

“I have written to the Election Commission in this regard and have also requested it to stop implementing the results of the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly polls. Experts outside India should be called to investigate the EVM machines,” she said.
The BJP has crossed the half-way mark in Uttar Pradesh and is presently leading in 323 seats in the 403-member assembly. The Samajwadi Party-Congress coalition is ahead in 65 seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party has so far managed to bag just 17 seats.
Uttar Pradesh went to polls in seven phases in the months of February and March. A total of 4,854 candidates is in fray for 403 assembly constituencies.

The BSP chief Mayawati also challenged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to ask Election Commission to hold fresh polls in UP using traditional ballot papers if they are “honest”.

See what an IT professional has to say

The observation of a Kerala-based TI professional, Joy Mathew about tampering the Electronic Voting Machine had gone viral in the social media. He has experience in the IT sector for more than 25 years. Joy Mathew, says that in an Electronic Voting Machine, changes or modification or tampering could be done in its programs on demand. For a skilled software engineer, it is very easy to make such adjustments. While checking the machine, everything will work properly. It could be set in such a way that the system will work properly in the first ten entries. And after this ten entries, it would change to an already set format. Or otherwise, it could be set like, one in five votes entered in favour of any other candidate would be entered in favour of the already set candidate.  Or in a time setting in which a special voting system starts on certain time in the morning and would be switched off in the evening. After this stipulated time, the system would work properly, without giving any chance of suspicion. Once the need is catered, all the history could be erased without leaving any evidence. As there is very less chance for any excavations, this tampering could not be identified easily.

Through the pages of voting machine sabotage

Shrikant Shirsat has contested as an independent from ward no. 164 in the recent BMC elections. He claims to have got zero or no votes from his booth. “It is impossible. The EVM has to be defective,” he said. “In the former assembly polls, I got 1500 votes. Now, obviously, I have got 44, and from my booth, zero. I voted for myself, my family voted for me and so did my neighbours, where did those votes go?” Shirsat has already complained the issue to the Election Commission and has demanded a probe over the same.

There are more people like Shirsat located across the state. They almost proved to be right and might have contacted Ravi Ghate. Pune-based social entrepreneur Ravi Ghate started a helpline exclusively to register complaints regarding Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) tampering. He claims to have received over 750 calls in five hours over this issue. “I began the helpline subsequently getting many grievances from candidates contesting in the local elections in various municipal corporations, Panchayat Samitis and Zilla Parishads”, he said.

Earlier during 2014, the functioning of an electronic voting machine raised many eyebrows across the state while a mandatory mock vote in Jorhat. The shocking reality is that, whenever a switch was touched, the vote went in approval of BJP.

Vote Verifiable Paper Audit Trial systems to prevent voting sabotage

In October 2013, the Supreme Court, in its landmark judgment, directed the Election Commission to implement its Electronic Voting Machines with Vote Verifiable Paper Audit Trial systems, which permits electors to verify that their votes are added as expected and works as an extra barrier to modifying or killing votes.

Consequently, the Election Commission introduced VVPAT in 10 assembly constituencies in Mizoram and one constituency each in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.  But it may not be rolling out VVPAT before 2019.

Under VVPAT, a printer-like equipment is connected to EVM. When a vote is cast, a slip is produced recording the serial number, name, and symbol of the candidate. It verifies the vote and the elector can check the information.

The slip, once viewed, goes inside a box linked to the EVM and can only be reached by the election officers in isolated or rare cases. The method permits a voter to challenge his or her vote with the support of the paper receipt, for the first time in the Indian voting history. According to a new rule, the booth presiding officer will have to register the dissent of the voter. This shall be taken into account at the time of counting.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra State Election Commissioner J S Saharia said that there was no proof of tampering in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the recent local body polls in the state. As the BJP swept the elections, the opposition parties had raised suspicions over tampering EVMs. If many defeated candidates raise this issue, the Election Commission would be forced to investigate the unbelievable success of BJP in the Uttar Pradesh winning more than 80% votes.

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