EVM Tampering and AAP
There was assembly uproar when an AAP MLA demonstrated that the stand-alone EVMs can be tampered with. Saurabh Bhardwaj, a computer engineer in the AAP constituency of Greater Kailash, proved by giving a demonstration of EVM tampering in a special session of the Delhi Assembly. Just an fyi, that a dummy machine was used for the demonstration and not the actual one. He reset the dummy machine and showed that the machine which cleared the mock test could also be rigged during the time of polling.
After the assembly elections in March, the Aam Aadmi Party is shouting about EVM tampering and has accused that the EVMs were rigged to secure a BJP win. Questions have been raised over BJP’s wins in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand by the Arvind Kejriwal-led party. The MCD elections 2017 became an EVM Elections after AAP accused EC for tampered EVMs.
EVM Tampering by AAP in Delhi Assembly
Saurabh Bhardwaj stated that an engineer like himself could also tamper with the machines: “I was a computer science engineer for 10 years before becoming an MLA. The foundation of India’s democracy is based on machines that can be easily hacked by small engineers such as me.”
He started his evm tampering demonstration saying that first the candidates are made to feel a sense of satisfaction during the mock test of polling: “Before voting day candidates are fooled into believing that the machines are fine. This is done during the mock test.” He demonstrated this by casting two votes each for five parties and pressed the reset button to show that the votes tallied as they were polled.
According to the MLA, any person who knows how to rig the EVMs can bring in secret codes for conditioning the victory of a party: “Let’s say that some votes have been cast till 10 am and we want to ensure that all votes cast after this time go to BJP. A BJP worker comes in to the booth as a voter and enters the secret code.”
He demonstrated this with an example. He denoted a secret code for the BJP candidate, which was ‘123414’. He first voted for BJP and then entered the code by pressing the buttons in that sequence- first, second, third, fourth, first and fourth. He casted 8 more votes for AAP after the secret code was entered. After he closed the polling, the tally stood at 10 votes for AAP, 3 for BJP, and 2 for the other 3 parties. But when the results were revealed, the final tally stood at a shocking 2 votes each for all the parties except BJP which stood at a total of 11 votes.
This raises concern over the polling that has been going on in the country and the Election Commission’s reputation and credibility has been put at stake after such a revelation. In its defense, the EC stated that once an EVM is taken out of the security zone, it’s not an ECI machine after that. They also noted that the ECI – EVMs are unique because they are stand-alone machines, which implies they cannot be put in comparison with machines of other countries. They explained that there is one time programmable (OTP) software that’s burnt into the chip during the time of the manufacture and could not be vulnerable to hacking. Further strengthened their claims saying that post manufacturing, apparently nothing can be written on the chip.