Congress veteran leader Digvijaya Singh raises the ‘EVMs are hacked’ bogey

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Like clockwork, the ‘EVMs are tampered’ bogey has been raised by sore losers as Congress stares at an imminent defeat in recently concluded Delhi Assembly elections. Congress veteran leader Digvijaya Singh, minutes before the counting of votes began, questioned use of EVMs instead of ballot papers for elections. Taking to Twitter, Singh urged the Supreme Court and Election Commission to have a fresh look at usage of EVMs in India.

“We can’t allow some unscrupulous people to hack results and steal the mandate of 1.3 billion people,” he tweeted. He further said that no machine that has a chip is tamper-proof.

He even questioned why the developed countries don’t use EVMs if they’re so accurate. The EC has categorically explained [pdf] earlier how EVMs cannot be hacked.

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The key reasons cited are:

  1. EVMs are standalone machines and not connected with internet or any other network that can give away control, so can’t be ‘hacked’ the way other systems are compromised.
  2. The chip in EVMs can be programmed only once and it’s burnt into the EVMs at the time of manufacture. They can not be programmed again to transfer all or a part of all votes to a particular party.
  3. ECI had given chances to various people, right from year 2009, to demonstrate how EVMs can be tampered with, but they either failed or refused to demonstrate.
  4. Every EVM in every election is checked in presence of representatives of political parties before election process beings. If any machine is found malfunctioning, it is not used in elections.
  5. Mock polls are done by representatives of political parties themselves and at least 1000 mock votes are registered. Some rumours had claimed that after first 100 votes, rest of the votes are transferred, so this rumour is also killed in this process.
  6. The machines found working well are stored in strong room with a ‘pink paper seal’ that is signed by representatives of all political parties. This seal ensures that the chosen EVM’s body can not be opened and no hardware changes can be made. Software changes can not be made as explained in point 1 and 2 above.
  7. Which EVM goes to which assembly or polling booth, is decided through a computerised randomisation process. This randomised allocation also happens in the presence of representative of political parties.
  8. A mock poll is done again after EVMs are assigned constituencies, and the candidate list is set to the machines. This is again done in the presence of representative of political parties.
  9. Yet another mock poll in presence of representative of political parties takes place on the actual day of polling at every polling station.
  10. Paper and thread seals are put on EVMs (after blocking those buttons that have no corresponding candidates) before the actual polling begins. This is also done in presence of representative of political parties and they are allowed to put their signatures on the seal.
  11. Once the polling is over, and “close” button is pressed, after which the data is final and secured, entire EVM is sealed. And again, it done in presence of representative of political parties and they are allowed to put their signatures on the seal.
  12. The political parties are allowed to put their seals even on strong rooms where the EVMs are stored, and they are allowed to keep a watch on the strong rooms round the clock.
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