Lok Sabha Elections, Electronic Voting Machines and persistent whispers of EVM rigging

EVM taken home by officer on election duty in VaranasiEVM taken home by officer on election duty in Varanasi

That Electronic Voting Machines are not tamper proof has been well established, including by the High Court of Delhi judgment on the Public Interest Litigation filed by Dr. Subramanian Swamy in 2012. There have been previous suspicions of Electoral Fraud by rigging Electronic voting machines. Notable among these are the article by Dr. Subramanian Swamy in the year 2000 that pointed out disproportionate votes to BJP in constituencies with Electronic Voting Machines as compared with Constituencies polled using paper ballot. In the year 2000, Swamy had alleged that the widespread use of EVMs was a part of the RSS plan and provided some numbers to prove his allegation:

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be used in all the constituencies. Perhaps it is then easier to rig the outcome. After all, in the 1999 general elections, the BJP and its allies won 34 out of the 45 Lok Sabha constituencies which had EVMs. On that ratio, the NDA should have won 405 se ats of the 544 Lok Sabha constituencies and not 292. EVMs have to be programmed by an engineer to tabulate the votes in its memory. It can easily be programmed to transfer votes of one candidate to another, or one party to another. The EVMs are entirely unsafeguarded today. I suspect it was rigged in the 1999 general elections.

Independently in 2009, Dr Anupam Saraph, the chief information officer of Pune, appointed by the Pune Municipal Corporation and an advisor to the United Nations and Dr Madhav Nalapath, an expert on geopolitics, who had planned to track the elections found excel files on the Election Commission’s website on the 6th of May 2009 – 9 days before the polling ended on 15th May and 10 days before vote counting began. This data was further updated on the 8th and 11th before the final results. The Election Commission dismissed this finding as dummy data. However it is unlikely that dummy data would get updated or that dummy data would reflect trends accurately in 180 constituencies. More information, including the updated xls file versions here.

In 2010, a trio of scientists; Hari K. Prasad, Rop Gonggrijp and J. Alex Halderman from the University of Michigan (United States) demonstrated how Indian Electronic Voting Machines can be hacked in several ways.

The video refutes several claims of security made by the Election Commission and is a must watch for every Indian voter.

This year’s Lok Sabha Election saw several allegations of EVM rigging, including a machine in Assam that transferred all votes to the BJP ound in random testing and two machines found during voting where the light for the Congress blinked, no matter what button was pressed, in Maharashtra.

Subramanian Swamy had tweeted that several machines had been rigged.

Subramanian Swamy EVM fraud

Subramanian Swamy EVM fraud

However, this is the tip o the iceberg. The video makes it clear that rigging is possible in ways that are less easily detectable – for example, transferring a certain percentage of the votes after a certain number of votes have been cast – so that it is more difficult to detect – there is virtually no trail.

India’s Deputy Commissioner, Alok Shukla had told BBC, “It is not just the machine, but the overall administrative safeguards which we use that make it absolutely impossible for anybody to open the machine.” … “Before the elections take place, the machine is set in the presence of the candidates and their representatives. These people are allowed to put their seal on the machine, and nobody can open the machine without breaking the seals.” However, this is not true.

The researchers state that the seals are easy to tamper with. But these are still possibilities. Less easy to dismiss are concrete incidents.

The address tag from the Electronic Voting Machine in Medha Patkar’s constituency was found on the street.

EVM address tag found on street in North East Mumbai constituency

EVM address tag found on street in North East Mumbai constituency

The returning officer, in the case where the EVM was found transferring all votes to BJP said “These EVMs were here for long. Usually, EVMs are kept in the custody of the deputy commissioner and during elections they are taken to strong rooms.”

Congress candidate Sanjay Nirupam, who lost with a big margin alleged EVM tampering as well. “Congress candidates have been defeated in Gujarat, Maharshtra and Uttar Pradesh with massive leads, which is not possible. The contract of the EVM had been given to a multi-national company based in Gujarat. This in itself is suspicious,” Nirupam alleged.

Sector Magistrate and son in trouble after taking EVMs home

Sector Magistrate and son in trouble after taking EVMs home. Image: Kafila

Less ambiguous is the situation in Varanasi, which all media except Indian Express have studiously ignored. A day before the Varanasi polls, Awadesh Kumar Srivastava, a divisonal audit officer in the Rural Engineering Department, was given charge of two additional EVMs, to be used as replacements. Srivastava took the EVMs home, instead of keeping them in the allotted sector headquarters as required. Srivastava’s son clicked photographs of himself and his father with the EVMs. He uploaded these photographs on Facebook, with the comment “Ab ki baar, Modi Sarkar”.

EVM taken home by officer on election duty in Varanasi

EVM taken home by officer on election duty in Varanasi

And here is the kicker. A stray news clipping alleges that an Indian engineer from UK had been brought in to rig the Electronic Voting machines and ensure that BJP won 60 seats it was going to lose. This news needs to be traced, people identified and investigated, considering that there is already something strange with the UP Election Result. This, of course is in addition to the miraculous Modi wave that won all seats in UP except those seven seats from the Gandhi family and the Yadav family.

Engineer came to rig EVMs for 60 seats?

Engineer came to rig EVMs for 60 seats?

I am currently trying to trace this newspaper. If you know please comment below. Better copy of print will also be appreciated. It can also be mischief, but the headlines are certainly serious enough to investigate. [update: It seems it may be a clipping from Amar Ujala. However, which edition and date is unclear. Still trying to confirm.]

Kohram.in reports that election staff did bogus voting in favor of BJP casting 10 votes each for BJP and they apparently had a WhatsApp group to coordinate the same.

Other issues include reports of booth capturing, presence of Rahul Gandhi in polling booth and accusations of EVM rigging and demands for re-polling by BJP as well.

Considering the scale of Indian Elections and the significant number of situations where EVM fraud can be considered likely, this should be looked into by the Supreme Court and the Election set aside and re-election should be conducted using ballot paper in the interests of protecting the voice of the people if need be.

I will do a separate post with statistics relevant to this post.

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About the Author

Vidyut
Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

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