Archive for the ‘COUNTDOWN’ Category


Why it is necessary to make ‘Paper Trail’ work for India’s EVMs?

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN

On October 4, at the All-party meeting convened by the Election Commission of India (ECI), there was a consensus among all political parties that the ECI must introduce a system of Voter Verified Paper Trail (VVPAT). Showing some flexibility after many months of stiff resistance, the ECI had agreed to explore implementation of the VVPAT option in the EVMs. As promised, the ECI has referred the matter to its Expert Committee headed by P.V. Indiresan to study the feasibility of introducing VVPAT.
What is Voter verified paper trail?
Voter verified paper trail (VVPAT) refers to a system wherein a printer attached with the voting machine produces a paper printout of every vote cast just as an ATM produces a slip after every transaction. The voter verifies it for its accuracy and then it is stored in a ballot box as a separate record of votes, independent of the electronic record stored in the EVM.
Why paper trail is [...]

The “Ugly face” of the ECI: Arrest of Hari Prasad for “sting demonstration”

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN

Today, at wee hours Maharashtra police landed up at the residence of Hari Prasad in Hyderabad, a technologist and Technical coordinator of VeTA to arrest him. The arrest was made on the flimsy charge of ‘theft of EVM’ used for vulnerability demonstration by Hari Prasad and a team of security researchers that included Alex Halderman, professor of computer science, University of Michigan and Rop Gonggrijp, a security researcher from Netherlands along with a team of their colleagues.
Earlier, police came to Hyderabad in the first week of August and recorded a statement on the EVM they had used for exposing the vulnerability of EVMs. They summoned him to Mumbai for further questioning. Hari Prasad could not go as he was busy with his professional work. Then, the sudden arrest happened this morning.
Over the past one year, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has been lying blatantly and willfully to ensure continued use of EVMs at all [...]

Bihar polls to see return of paper ballots

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN


Parties determined to frustrate the ECI and force-exit EVMs

In the Telangana by-polls held last week, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) fielded over 64 candidates in many assembly  constituencies forcing the Election Commission of India (ECI) to use paper ballots in 5 of the 12 constituencies that went to polls. TRS had openly declared that it feared manipulation of EVMs by the ruling Congress party to show that the verdict of the people was against the formation of a separate state of Telangana.
In the end, the results proved to be a total sweep for the TRS; in all the 12 constituencies (of which TRS contested 11 and BJP 1).  In its thumping success , the TRS sees a vindication of its stand against the EVMs. But for its active stance against the EVMs, the TRS leaders believe they could have been cheated.
Use of paper ballots in Telangana by-polls had instilled a great degree of [...]

VeTA petitions the President of India to intervene on the vexed EVM issue

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN

As the Election Commission of India has been non-responsive to the demand for a debate by various political parties and has resorted to falsification over the issue of EVMs, VeTA felt compelled to petition the President of India to suitably intervene on the EVM issue. This is the first of a series of such letters VeTA proposes to write to all premier institutions in the country to galvanise public opinion.
The text of my letter dated July 17 addressed to the President of India is reproduced below.
Mahamahim Rashtrapatiji,
As a noted election analyst in the country and as the author of the lone publication on India’s electronic voting machines (EVMs) titled “Democracy at Risk! Can we trust our Electronic Voting Machines?,” I am writing to urge you to kindly intervene in a suitable manner at this juncture to protect the integrity of Indian elections being presently conducted through EVMs.
Even as the introduction of EVMs has brought efficiency [...]

EVM saga to enter Apex Court as the Election Commission mulls closure of EVM “enquiry”

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN

As the present chief election commissioner Navin Chawla’s term draws to a close, the ECI has once again invited V.V. Rao, petitioner who filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India in July, 2009 to demonstrate that the Indian EVMs can be tampered with. The enquiry began last July when the Supreme Court directed the petitioners to approach the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the first instance with all their complaints concerning EVMs.
The ECI’s invitation, as a part of the ongoing “enquiry” into allegations of EVM tampering, began exactly a year ago. Despite the best efforts of the ECI to close the enquiry, the issue of EVM tamperability has acquired much greater visibility and credibility among the key stakeholders in the past 12 months. The latest protest action of Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) that forced the ECI to introduce paper ballots in Telangana bypolls later this month is proof [...]

Election Commission forced to use paper ballots in Telangana bypolls: EVMs would be gone soon nationally

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN

“ECI preparing for life without EVMs..?”

I have been repeatedly asserting in this blog that the EVMs would soon be history. Many of my friends and EVM critics wondered if this was possible and realistic. The decision of the ECI to hold by-elections in 11 assembly constituencies of Telangana with ballot papers bears out my assessment.
I have long argued that the continuation of EVMs is untenable and their exit inevitable. Transparency, verifiability and accountability are essential features of free and fair elections. Our electoral democracy is seriously imperiled if voters supporting losing candidates and parties do not believe that have actually been defeated in polls. Likewise, losing parties and candidates must have faith in election results.

Here is an interesting quote I came across in the context of U.S. elections:
“The Democrats think Republicans are stealing elections. The Republicans think Democrats are stealing elections. And, those of us who are neither, know they are both [...]

TRS’s Boycott of EVMs in Telangana Bypolls: EVMs would be gone (Part 3)

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN

The unending controversy over electronic voting machines (EVMs) has acquired a fresh thrust from the state of Andhra Pradesh where by-elections are scheduled later this month. These developments take the fight against the EVMs to a new level of political protest and are fast forwarding the exit of EVMs much sooner than expected. The more the Election Commission is trying to resist EVM reform and mindlessly even blocking a dialogue with political parties, parties have begun to develop doubts about the reliability of the EVMs and the impartiality of the poll body.

Here are the developments in Andhra Pradesh that must send alarm bills ringing in Nirvachan Sadan, headquarters of Election Commission of India.

Separate statehood demand for Telangana would be on test on July 27, the day 12 assembly constituencies would go to polls. These by-elections have become necessary after 11 sitting MLAs of the TRS and one MLA of the BJP resigned [...]

EVMs are unconstitutional; that’s why they would go soon

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN

Besides the technical and legal considerations, there are larger constitutional issues involved in the use of electronic voting machines in elections. Use of EVMs for voting in elections is unconstitutional because they store votes only on electronic memory devices and infringe the fundamental rights of the voters. Here is how.
Under our constitution, “right to vote” is a legal right and not a fundamental right. A fundamental right is one guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. A legal right is one given by law. Right to vote is given under the Representation of People (R.P) Act to all Indian citizens over 18 years of age.
Significantly, while the vote per se is only a legal right, how that vote should be exercised by a voter is his/ her individual expression and that is covered by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution, which guarantees fundamental rights to the citizens of the country. It is this fundamental right, the [...]

‘Rajniti’: EVMs in mainstream cinema, present and future

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN

The subject of electronic voting machines (EVMs) is now a part of the mainstream Hindi cinema. Rajniti, the star studded bollywood film that hit the silver screens yesterday has some interesting references to the EVMs.
Rajniti is a tell-all commentary on today’s politics. The film showcases all that ails politics today: violence, intrigue, corruption, dynasty politics, sex and hold your breath, EVMs. That EVMs have now been added as yet another dimension of Indian politics shows the salience the subject has achieved, notwithstanding the loud protests from the misleading and fictitious claims made by the Election Commission of India.
I am delightfully enjoying writing this blog. I am a movie buff and never tire of watching films. This one is a bonus for me because it deals with the subject of EVMs that we have been preoccupied with. Film Director Prakash Jha deals with the subject very delicately taking care not to make any sweeping allegations.
The film [...]

Why EVMs would go (Part 1): Because they aren’t fraud resistant

Posted by Narasimha Rao under COUNTDOWN

Mandarins at the Election Commission of India have been largely dismissive of the serious misgivings among political parties, candidates and citizens’ groups about electronic voting. They cannot win over others by their arguments. So they try to rubbish them on flimsy grounds.
Elections are all about trust. If the losers and their supporters do not trust the election results and is there is no “physical evidence” or basis to show that their fears are unfounded, the legitimacy of election results would remain perpetually under a cloud.
German Judgment
The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany which held the use of electronic voting machines unconstitutional in March, 2009 observed that the election process should be transparent in a manner that the general public can be satisfied that their vote is correctly recorded and counted and there should be a provision whereby ‘the votes are recorded in another way besides electronic storage’ and there is ‘retraceability’ of the election result independently of [...]