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5

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.

Also in 2010, we saw Narendra Modi and BJP accused of EVM rigging when it turned out that machines used to poll votes had not been supplied by the EC and there were reports of votes cast for the Congress resulting in the light for BJP being lit. After polling by 44 people, one machine registered 111 votes.

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.

Update: Since then, BJP has also been accused of rigging EVMs in Civic polls in Maharashtra with some instances of more votes being counted than votes cast, allegations of tampering in the Pune Civic polls as well as in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Videos have also emerged of a woman alleging booth capturing in UP where women voters were told that the EVM wasn't working, while their votes were cast in favor of BJP instead of BSP. The EC which could easily verify the paper trails and investigate complaints shows no inclination to do so.

2

With everyone going gaga over participating in democracy, which apparently means voting, I think it is time to raise my hand and say loud and clear [Tweet "I'm not voting and it is my right."]

And before you panic, here are my answers to the top five angry objections to my stand.

It is a citizen's duty to vote.

No, it isn't. It is the state's duty to present every citizen the opportunity to vote, if s/he wish to exert their RIGHT to vote.

This, astonishingly comes the most from political parties. In fact, a few years ago, when I didn't know better and naively attended a Friends of BJP event about being "apolitical", I heard Meenakshi Lekhi actually claim that people who don't vote aren't even citizens. I was so appalled, I met her after the programme to confirm that she said it, and she repeated it. Other variations include "shouldn't be considered citizens", "shouldn't expect anything from the government" and "voting must be compulsory".

The appalling ignorance coming from people highly involved in politics convinces me that it is either a malicious invention or ignorance that mandates that they must not be elected, because voting is not my duty, it is my right. I can exert it how I wish within the limits of the law, and there is no law making voting mandatory (thank God, we are at least a democracy on this still).

It is my RIGHT to vote or not as per my will, and any politician who is not aware of this should not contest elections. It is one of the few rights that are uniformly available to all citizens, and I'm not going to keep quiet as politicians attempt to appropriate it to their whim.

Politicians need to get off their pompous self-goals to realize that voting is not the sole contribution of a citizen to his country. Everything from paying taxes to filing PILs and protesting to taking a stand on not voting is a citizen's way of shaping his or her country. The simple act of spending money to survive contributes to the country's large market that the government is renting like an asset for foreign investors. And the citizen is not actually required to do anything to be a citizen. S/He either is or isn't till s/he gives it up or dies. It is one thing to believe that citizens should express their preferences more and quite another to demand that they jump through hoops to prove own legitimacy or right to identity.

You cannot end corruption if honest citizens don't vote

This shows utter ignorance of human psychology. Other variations include "you can't prevent fascists from coming to power if you don't vote" and "you can't prevent the corrupt socialists from reducing India to poverty if you don't vote". This is plain bullshit.

Neither human rights abuse nor corruption are traits of a political party. They are human traits that humans agree not to act on as a part of living in a collective. Other such traits would be lying, cheating, stealing and so on. If political parties get away with communal violence or they get away with corruption or these things are institutionalized, that to my mind symbolizes a weakness of the structure rather than a party specifically. Are some parties willing to do wrong more than others? Sure, but I still believe it is a law enforcement issue, and there is no way around the hard way - not tolerating it and keeping rejecting it so strongly, that parties have to clean up their act to survive. ALL parties. No matter which party comes to power and where, corruption or communal violence must be illegal anyway.

You can't say, oh BJP is in power, so we will let riots happen or oh, Congress is in power so we will let scams happen. Get that straight.

Bad politicians come to power because you don't vote for good ones

More bullshit. Most of the country never voted for Raja. Most of the country never voted for Sharad Pawar. We have a Prime Minister who has never won an election. No matter which politician you name, most of the country never voted for him because one politician cannot contest from all over the country, but will bear the results of his actions. Bad politicians come to power because they have hoarded enough power that they cannot be set aside (or they are trusted by such people).

So me voting CANNOT result in a clean Parliament. It is plain nonsense told to people to encourage them to vote, so politicians don't feel like no one turned up for their gig.

In my view, if people have lost trust in politicians so much that they can't be bothered to vote, such a government turning rotten will at least be discredited easier by large mobs of protesters than a government where misguided people voted even though they didn't really like anyone.

You have to choose the lesser evil and defeat the greater evil

I don't have to choose ANY evil. I don't believe my country deserves evil in power. The debate over whether you ate a bowlful of dung or a plateful does not excite me. I'd prefer to not eat dung.

Because honest people don't vote, corrupt politicians buy votes

I find this one the most laughable. Other variation are minorities and dalits vote as communities, middle class voting would bring BJP to power, etc. Basically, stuff that sounds profound and as if you know a great deal about other communities, which will not stand cursory examination.

Even going by Justice Katju's measure and considering the country overwhelmingly stupid, it doesn't take a great deal of cleverness to realize that no one really knows who you voted for and you can have your bottle of whiskey and vote your wish too. Which is probably why elections are wisely by secret ballot. So community leaders telling people in some Friday or Sunday congregation that they must vote for someone is really bullshit. Community leaders have advised for far more years - centuries, actually to not fornicate and tell lies and such. Look how effective that is. And the idea that only influential figures in minorities tell people who to vote for is either brainwash or such horrendous lack of intelligence that it would probably implode under the stress of work if it got elected.

I don't for a minute believe that it is possible to buy votes enough to change an election result. Sure, that won't stop politicians from *trying* to buy votes. But whoever imagines that the person suffering first hand from the results of misgovernance will give up the easy opportunity to "fix" it for a bottle of booze they have already drunk is clearly ignorant of how the human mind works.

 

Lastly, I'd like to explain why I don't want to vote. The reason is actually quite obvious. I haven't found a party that actually offers much beyond "we'll do our job", which is my expectation from all parties anyway. I'm hardly going to vote for one party and then if it loses be ok with the one I didn't vote for being dishonest. So it doesn't seem to me a factor to vote for.

For example, if a party offered copyright reform, which is something other parties don't and it isn't a requirement from their jobs or something people are demanding enmasse. Then that party is actually attempting to shape the country in some way. I'd vote. If they lost, I'd know I can't expect that from the other party.

Is it wrong for parties to offer to fix basic problems? No. But I am not suffering from basic problems. I go broke, but that isn't the government's fault. I have a home, I have electricity and water enough that I can store for when it isn't there. I have my bicycle and petrol prices don't matter much. There isn't any burning issue that *I* need fixed.

In contrast, I know a whole lot of people fighting for life and death issues in this country. If it has to come down to parties fighting for votes on the basis of promising to do their jobs and be honest and such, I'd rather the most power of choice went to people fighting for survival and that they got the governments that would give them the best chance.

I am not so arrogant as to believe they are too stupid to know what will help them. I am not going to sit and analyze parties and predict their impact on other people whom I consider too stupid to know what is good for them. I am going to leave it to the wearer to know where the shoe pinches. This is something that terrifies the political salesmen, because there is no way to explain away a pinch to the one being pinched, while anyone can be sold a pretty shoe with some dazzle.

So what I am choosing to do with my vote is to abdicate it so that it doesn't interfere with those using theirs to express desperate needs.

"Do you realize you are agreeing to accept whichever party others choose for you?" a furious reader had asked.

Yes. I understand. I accept.