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

Posted on August 21st, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  66 Comments »

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 [...]

“3 Idiots” determine Indian election results

Posted on August 11th, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  9 Comments »

Did you know before that India’s electoral democracy is hostage to three idiots? Lest you think that I am being irreverent to the three election commissioners holding constitutional office, let me inform right away that the three people that I am referring to are junior programmers in the EVM manufacturing companies who have written the EVM software or source code that drive all the functions of the EVMs.
This revelation was made by none other than Prof. P.V. Indiresan, chairman of the expert committee of the Election Commission of India at the Electronic Voting Technology (EVT) workshop in Washington, DC yesterday. He told a stunned audience comprising some of the best voting system security experts and computer scientists that the Election Commission of India believes that these junior programmers are honest and trustworthy as they have been told so by the EVM manufacturers namely, the BEL and ECIL. The Election Commission is told that each [...]

Bihar polls to see return of paper ballots

Posted on August 3rd, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  2 Comments »

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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 on July 21st, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  No Comments »

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 on July 19th, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  1 Comment »

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 on July 10th, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  3 Comments »

“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 on July 7th, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  No Comments »

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 [...]

My Guest Column in Tehelka Magazine: The Case Against Electronic Voting

Posted on July 6th, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  No Comments »

In Today’s blog, I am reproducing excerpts from my guest column published in the latest issue of ‘Tehelka’ magazine dated July 10. Do read the full article at the link given at the end of this blog.

The Case Against Electronic Voting
By GVL Narasimha Rao
Why is India embracing EVMs, when the world is moving away from them, as they are easy to tamper with?
ELECTRONIC VOTING machines (EVMs) have been in universal use in India since the general election of 2004, when paper ballots were phased out completely. For the past several months, there has been a flood of opposition to the EVMs by political parties.
….India’s experience with electronic voting is similar to the US and Western Europe. Electronic voting systems have come to be criticised in a number of countries for not meeting minimal standards of system integrity, transparency and verifiability, and for not allowing a fair recount in case of disputes.
Germany discarded [...]

Awful projections by exit polls and media pundits raise EVM Tampering concerns

Posted on June 30th, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  1 Comment »

 
The track record of exit pollsters in predicting Lok Sabha elections was remarkable until 1999 in India. My own projections for successive Lok Sabha elections in 1996, 1998 and 1999 for the Times of India were spot on. (Refer Table 1)  Similarly, my projections for the assembly elections to Uttar Pradesh (2007), Gujarat (2007), Madhya Pradesh (2008) published in the MINT newspaper were also spot on.
It is therefore natural to ask why Indian pollsters in general (and that includes my own predictions) and media pundits in particular have failed to read the voter mood correctly in the 2009 and 2004 Lok Sabha elections when they were able to do so very accurately until 1999? (Refer Tables 2 and 3)
Is there something esoteric and mysterious in the fact that the only two parliamentary elections in India’s parliamentary history, where the pollsters in general have gone horribly wrong, were totally ‘electronic’ elections in which electronic voting machines [...]

HOW TO MAKE INDIAN EVMs SECURE

Posted on June 21st, 2010 by Narasimha Rao  |  1 Comment »

In this blog, I have been advocating discontinuation of EVMs and even predicted their exit in less than two years. Election Commission of India (ECI) under the stewardship of chief election commissioner Navin Chawla adopted a rigid attitude and pervaded blatant lies about EVMs resulting in a general lack of trust amongst the political bosses of various parties.
Another election commissioner V.S. Sampath, had stated recently that the Election Commission had an open mind on the EVMs and is willing to make the necessary improvements in them. If the Commission is indeed prepared to make improvements in EVMs as it claims, here is a list of do’s that the ECI must be prepared to implement. The following steps if implemented fully may obviate the need to revert to the traditional paper ballot system.
Physical record of voting a must

If EVMs are to survive, it must be ensured that every vote recorded on the EVM is printed [...]