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Archive for the ‘Questionable Decisions’ Category

 

Use of EVMs in 2004 & 2009 Lok Sabha polls was Illegal

Posted by Narasimha Rao under Questionable Decisions

The amendment to the RP Act did not empower the Election Commission to introduce electronic voting machines on a nationwide scale in 2004 and 2009. The amendment made to the RP Act in the form of 61A in 1989 allowed use of EVMs selectively and did not envisage blanket use of EVMs on a universal basis.
The amendment to the act states that voting machines “may be adopted in such constituency or constituencies as the Election Commission may, having regard to the circumstances of each case, specify.”
Further Explanation provided  under Section 61 A in the RP Act reads as follows:
Explanation.—For the purpose of this section, “voting machine” means any machine or apparatus whether operated electronically or otherwise used for giving or recording of votes and any reference to a ballot box or ballot paper in this Act or the rules made thereunder shall, save as otherwise provided, be construed as including a reference to such voting [...]

Supreme Court of India held use of EVMs was Illegal

Posted by Narasimha Rao under Questionable Decisions

Electronic voting machines were first introduced in the country in 1982 in assembly elections on a limited basis. One such constituency where they were used was the Parur Assembly constituency in the state of Kerala. In 50 of the 84 polling stations, electronic voting machines were used. The defeated candidate A.C. Jose who polled 30,327 votes and lost the election to Sivan Pillai by a small margin of 123 votes appealed in the Supreme Court alleging that the use of electronic voting machines in elections was illegal and prayed that the election be set aside. (A.C. Jose vs. Sivan Pillai –1984 (2) SCC 656.)
On March 5, 1984, in the A.C. Jose vs. Sivan Pillai-1984(2) case, the Supreme Court of India had ruled that the use of EVMs was illegal and that the Election Commission had no power to use electronic voting machines as the Representation of People Act (RPA), 1951 and Conduct of Election [...]

Dubious Democracies Bangladesh and Pakistan to adopt “India-like” EVMs

Posted by Narasimha Rao under Questionable Decisions

Even as political parties in India are getting increasingly impatient to get rid of the EVMs, the controversy regarding India’s paperless Direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines seems to have had no impact on our neighbors who are rushing into electronic voting. Or, looking at it from a different perspective and uncharitably, is the heat generated by the EVM controversy in India and the recent expose’ of how their vulnerabilties can be exploited propelling these countries to expedite their plans for e-voting.
Welcome Bangladesh and Pakistan to the club of e-voting nations. Neither of them has an enviable record in democracy and in maintaining integrity of election verdicts. According to sources, Afghanistan may be the next country to take the e-route.
Let me briefly illustrate their e-voting plans before offering my views on the subject.
BANGLADESH
Bangladesh has indigenously developed its own electronic voting machines. Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET) has developed these systems. From their description, these voting [...]

Navin Chawla’s errant approach to expedite exit of EVMs

Posted by Narasimha Rao under Questionable Decisions

One month after facing the heat over the vulnerability of EVMs exposed by the research study coordinated by NetIndia’s Hari Prasad, the chief election commissioner Navin Chawla has responded with flimsy accusations. Speaking to the media in Itanagar last Saturday, Navin Chawla said, “…a private manufacturer, who failed to sell their machines for use in polls, were behind the propaganda that EVMs were vulnerable.”
As the CEC, Mr. Chawla can’t be ignorant that the Election Commission of India (ECI) had never approached private companies for manufacturing EVMs nor the Netindia never approached the ECI with any proposals to sell EVMs. Then, where is the question of selling EVMs for use in polls? Hari Prasad of Netindia brings out these facts in a press statement. http://www.indianevm.com/news_detail.php?id=88
Alex Halderman, professor of computer science at the University of Michigan who was part of the collaborative study says that the statements of the CEC are “egregious lies” and would be responded [...]

Questionable Decisions – Part 4 – ‘Secret’ Software given to Foreign Companies

Posted by Narasimha Rao under Questionable Decisions

 
The microcontrollers (chips) used in the ECI-EVMs are sourced from manufacturers in the United States of America and Japan through their vendors in the country. The microcontrollers used by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) are manufactured by M/s Microchip, USA, while the Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) uses microcontrollers from Microchip and Renesas, Japan.
There is no security concern per se in procuring microcontrollers from foreign manufacturers as this is merely a piece of hardware. After procuring the microcontrollers from these manufacturers, the EVM manufacturers, namely the BEL and ECIL, could have fused program in the microcontrollers, as “One Time Programmable – Read Only Memory (OTP-ROM)” chips, in their own manufacturing premises. This would have ensured that the program in the microchips remained secure.
But, what these manufacturers have done shocks your senses. They have shared the ‘top secret’ software program with these chip manufacturers so that they can fuse the source code permanently into the microcontrollers at [...]

Questionable Decisions – Part 3 – New EVMs in Opposition States

Posted by Narasimha Rao under Questionable Decisions

 
The Election Commission of India had used 13.78 Lakh* electronic voting machines (EVMs) in 2009 parliamentary elections. Of these, 4.48 lakh EVMs are new EVMs which were purchased after 2007. These new/ upgraded EVMs conform to the additional ‘security features’ prescribed by the Expert Committee in its 2006 report.
The ‘old’ EVMs are more vulnerable to tampering mainly because they have been lying in district and taluka godowns for many years. Voting machines are secure only as long as criminals (insiders and outsiders included) do not gain physical access to them. It is common sense that longer a voting machine remains in the field; the greater are the chances for criminals to gain access.
The Election Commission’s choice of states for using new/ upgraded EVMs in 2009 Lok Sabha polls looks bizarre, bereft of logic and even smacks of political bias.
The RTI reply given by the ECI to V.V. Rao, petitioner in the Supreme Court and National [...]

Questionable Decisions (Part 2) – Use of State Govt. owned EVMs

Posted by Narasimha Rao under Questionable Decisions

 
Did you know that the Election Commission of India (ECI) had used Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) owned by the state governments in 2009 parliamentary elections? If you didn’t, you will find this blog post curious.
The BEL and ECIL, which sell electronic voting machines (EVMs) to the Election Commission of India (ECI) for use in assembly and parliamentary elections also sell EVMs to the state governments hold local body elections.
These state government owned EVMs are directly under the control of the state governments and the ECI has nothing to do with their purchase, storage, usage or checking as local elections are outside the ambit of the ECI.
Days before the first phase of polling in 2009 general elections, the Election Commission had directed the chief electoral officers of states (who work directly under the superintendence of the Election Commission of India) to paste “Election Commission of India” stickers on the state government owned EVMs used in parliamentary [...]

Questionable Decisions (Part 1) Scrapping of Authentication Unit project

Posted by Narasimha Rao under Questionable Decisions

The latest revelations of the scientific study conducted by Hari Prasad, Alex Halderman and Rop Gonggrijp have shown that a criminal can attack the display and memory of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) without any fear of detection.
The 2006 Expert Committee report of the Election Commission had never thought of such a possibility. This is not at all surprising as the “Expert Committee” lacked the necessary expertise in security testing and vulnerability analysis of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Lack of such expertise among Indian academicians is understandable. But what comes as a shock is the Election Commission’s decision to block some of the recommendations of the Expert Committee which would have reduced the scope for election fraud by detecting tampering of software and replacement of EVMs to manipulate election results.
The Expert Committee in its 2006 report suggested development of an authentication procedure to help EVM manufacturers certify the integrity of the hardware and the software of [...]