Assembly elections 2022: Nothing new in Akhilesh Yadav's EVM fraud claim; a look back at the use of EVMs and the many tampering allegations
The veracity of Electronic Voting Machines, first used as an experiment in 1982 in India, has been questioned several times in the past — from LK Advani in 2009 to the Opposition in 2017 during the Assembly elections
Just shy of the Assembly election results, scheduled for 10 March, the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party on Tuesday alleged that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) had been tampered with and said that he no longer trusts the poll body — the Election Commission.
Addressing a press conference, a defiant Akhilesh Yadav said: "EVM is being transported without being informed to candidates. Varanasi DM is transporting EVMs without giving any information to local candidates. EC should look into it.”
Asking how EVMs could be moved like that, Yadav said, “We need to be alert if EVMs are being transported this way. This is theft. We need to save our votes. We may go to court against it but before that, I want to appeal to people to save democracy.” Akhilesh also later tweeted that SP was sending a delegation to EC to officially lodge a complaint.
वाराणसी में EVM पकड़े जाने का समाचार उप्र की हर विधानसभा को चौकन्ना रहने का संदेश दे रहा है।
मतगणना में धांधली की कोशिश को नाकाम करने के लिए सपा-गठबंधन के सभी प्रत्याशी और समर्थक अपने-अपने कैमरों के साथ तैयार रहें।
युवा लोकतंत्र व भविष्य की रक्षा के लिए मतगणना में सिपाही बने!
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) March 8, 2022
This isn’t the first time that allegations of EVM tampering have been made. In fact, EVM tampering has long been a poll issue, with many political parties also demanding to return to the use of ballot papers.
Here’s a look at the history of EVMs in India, how they work and why the Election Commission say that they are fool-proof.
When were EVMs introduced in India?
Thirty-nine years ago, in 1982, EVMs were first used in one constituency, Parur, during the 1982 Kerala Assembly election. The EVM was chosen to replace the paper ballot — a mode of voting, which is prone to manipulation and also time-consuming.
It is noteworthy that the Supreme Court actually banned the EVM in elections following the first experiment.
It was then in 1989 that the EC commissioned these EVMs in collaboration with Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited.
In 1992, Parliament amended both the Representation of the People Act and the Conduct of Elections Rules to legitimise the use of EVMs in elections. Since 1998, EVMs have been used for both the Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections.
The country, today, uses a modern version of the original EVM with a feature for Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). These make it vastly easier to audit and verify the votes cast if challenged.
Interestingly, India is one of the few countries that uses EVMs in the poll exercise. As per an India Today report, only 25 countries across the world have experimented with or used EVMs.
How does the EVM work?
An EVM comprises of a control unit which is placed with the polling officer and a balloting unit which is placed inside the voting compartment.
The control unit is with the Election Commission-appointed polling officer; the balloting unit is in the voting compartment into which the voter enters to cast the vote in secret by pressing the button against the name and symbol of the candidate of her choice. The control unit is the EVM’s ‘brain’ — the balloting unit is turned on only after the polling officer presses the ‘Ballot’ button on it.
EVMs run on normal battery and they do not require electricity. An EVM can be used to record a maximum of 2,000 votes.
EVM tampering allegations
Akhilesh Yadav’s EVM tampering allegations join a long list of complaints against the machine.
In 2009, senior BJP leader LK Advani, who was the Leader of Opposition at that time, had demanded the reintroduction of ballot papers for the Assembly elections in Maharashtra and three other states. That was the first time a mainstream political party had questioned EVMs.
Years later, in 2014, the BJP won the general election with a thumping mandate and their allegations against EVM tampering was history. However, since then the Opposition has accused the BJP of tampering with the machines to win in several Assembly elections.
When the BJP won the Uttar Pradesh elections in 2017, a stunned Opposition resorted to EVM tampering claims; first among them was Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati.
Mayawati alleging EVM tampering is a sign of desperation. And that my friends is the beginning of the end of BSP sadly.. #ElectionResults
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) March 11, 2017
Her claim found favour with others too, including Akhilesh Yadav, the Congress, the Left and the Aam Aadmi Party.
Arvind Kejriwal, unable to digest that his party had underperformed in Punjab in 2017, accused the Election Commission of working for the BJP.
"Even the developed countries have given up on EVMs. Should we not rethink? Even the BJP including Advaniji had said EVMs can be tampered with," Kejriwal had said.
A few days later, AAP’s Saurabh Bhardwaj in the Delhi Assembly showed how EVMs could be tampered with and Kejriwal added that a voting machine could be hacked in 90 seconds.
Today AAP MLA @Saurabh_MLAgk provided incontrovertible evidence that EVM tampering is possible. What do all the sceptics have to say now? pic.twitter.com/qQFWFhL78g
— Atishi (@AtishiAAP) May 9, 2017
Reacting to these allegations, the EC challenged political parties to prove their claim that EVMs could be tampered with, inviting them to an event starting 3 June that could potentially end a raging debate over the devices.
EVM tampering claims got more credence in 2019 when an Indian cyber expert claimed that the 2014 general election was “rigged” through the EVMs, which, he says, can be hacked.
The man, identified as Syed Shuja, said he fled India in 2014 because he felt threatened in the country after the killing of some of his team members.
Shuja said that he was part of a team which designed the EVMs used in the 2014 elections. He said that he and his team were instructed by the Electronic Corporation of India Ltd to find out if EVMs could be hacked, and find out how to do this.
"The 2014 general elections were rigged," he claimed.
He added that other than the BJP, the SP, BSP, AAP and Congress too are involved in the EVMs rigging.
Can an EVM actually be hacked?
Experts state that EVMs can be hacked in two main ways: wireless and wired.
As per the analysis by various cybercrime and election experts, EVM hacking is an extremely complicated feat. As EVMs are not networked devices, hacking any EVM would require altering the machine itself. This means that anyone attempting to hack an EVM cannot do so remotely, and would need physical access to machines themselves, which would require them to be in collusion with EVM manufacturing authorities, the EC as well as companies that make the chips in EVMs.
href="https://www.firstpost.com/tag/assembly-elections-2022" target="_blank">Click here for latest updates on Assembly Elections 2022
With inputs from agencies
Read all the Latest News, Trending News, Cricket News, Bollywood News,
India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Services row: Arvind Kejriwal seeks meeting with Rahul Gandhi amid battle with Centre over ordinance
The Centre promulgated an ordinance last week to create a National Capital Civil Service Authority for the transfer of and disciplinary proceedings against Group-A officers from the DANICS cadre.
After controversial UK trip, Rahul Gandhi in US: Can he stay out of trouble?
Rahul Gandhi has once again come under fire for his remarks during an overseas trip. This time he is in the US. Addressing a gathering in San Francisco, the Congress leader said that all minority communities ‘feel attacked’ in India; the BJP has accused him of ‘insulting the country’
Democracy is under threat in Modi’s India, and its main enemies are uniting
Indian democracy is in danger. Not from the so-called ‘fascist’ Modi government or the BJP and RSS, but from those who most vociferously say that India’s democracy is in danger