The results of recent Indian elections have taken everyone by surprise. They are really bizzare. There is something rotten going on. How did Congress and the Western countries which support it slyly managed to get these dream results? Does the possibility of EVM (electronic voting machines) rigging exist?
Why were the Congress courtiers hell-bent on getting Navin Chawla to head the Election Commission? What role could this despicable doormat of 10 Janpath have possibly played? EVMs hold the key to this mystery. Interestingly EVMs are thoroughly discredited the world over because they are prone to manipulation. One agency has even called them a “threat to national security.”
All non-Congress parties in India would do well to launch a campaign to ban the use of EVMs. Or at least ensure that the EVM prints a ballot that is then dropped into a box for later counting and tallying the results with the EVMs. Strange things are possible with the use of EVMs. The most bizzare of these being the last-minute win of Chidambaram when he was trailing the other candidate the whole day in counting. Seems like Congress courtiers are allying with some foreign intelligence agencies to rule India in a “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” pact.
Many countries have banned EVMs. I got the following links from another forum.
California Top to Bottom Review
In May 2007, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen commissioned a “Top to Bottom review” of all electronic voting systems in the state. She engaged computer security experts led by the University of California to perform security evaluations of voting system source code as well as “red teams” running “worst case” Election Day scenarios attempting to identify vulnerabilities to tampering or error. The Top to Bottom review also included a comprehensive review of manufacturer documentation as well as a review of accessibility features and alternative language requirements.
The end results of the tests was released in the four detailed Secretary of State August 3, 2007 resolutions (for Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic, Sequoia Voting Systems and Elections Systems and Software, Inc.) and updated October 25, 2007 revised resolutions for Diebold and Sequoia voting systems. The security experts found significant security flaws in all of the manufacturers’ voting systems, flaws that could allow a single non-expert to compromise an entire election.
EVM: Dangers Of Trusting Them Too Much
By Subramanian Swamy
There is much talk today about electoral rigging in the recent general elections. These doubts have arisen from the unexpected number of seats won by the Congress, and they are accentuated by the spate of articles recently published in reputed computer engineering journals and in the popular international press. All raise doubts about the EVMs.
For example, International Electrical & Electronics Engineering Journal (May 2009, p 23) has published an article by two professors of computer science, titled: Trustworthy Voting. They conclude that while electronic voting machines offer a myriad of benefits, nine suggested safeguards are absolutely essential to protect the integrity of outcomes. None of these safeguards are in place in Indian EVMs. In India they do not meet the standard of national integrity.
Newsweek magazine (June 1) has published an article by Evgeny Morozov, who points out that when Ireland embarked on an ambitious e-voting scheme in 2006, such as fancy touch-screen voting machines, it was widely welcomed: Three years and 51 million euros later, in April, the government scrapped the initiative. What doomed the effort was a lack of trust: the electorate just didn’t like it that the machines would record their votes as mere electronic blips, with no tangible record.
A backlash against e-voting is brewing all over Europe. After almost two years of deliberations, Germany’s Supreme Court ruled last March that e-voting was unconstitutional because the average citizen could not be expected to understand the exact steps involved in the recording and tallying of votes. Political scientist Ulrich Wiesner, a physicist who filed the initial lawsuit said in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that the Dutch Nedap machines used in Germany were even less secure than mobile phones. The Dutch public-interest group ‘Wij Vertrouwen Stemcomputers Niet’ (We Do Not Trust Voting Machines) produced a video showing how quickly the Nedap machines could be hacked without voters or election officials being aware (the answer: in five minutes). After the clip was broadcast on national television in October 2006, the Netherlands banned all electronic voting machines.
Why are EVMs so vulnerable? Each step in the life cycle of a voting machine — from the time it is developed and installed to when the votes are recorded and the data transferred to a central repository for tallying — involves different people gaining access to the machines, often installing new software. It wouldn’t be hard for, say, an election official to paint a parallel programme under another password, on one or many voting machines that would ensure one outcome or another pre-determined even before voters arrived at the poll stations.
These dangers have been known to the Election Commission since 2000, when M S Gill, then CEC, had arranged at my initiative for professor Sanjay Sarma of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Gitanjali Swamy of Harvard to demonstrate how un-safeguarded the chips in EVMs were. Some changes in procedures were made by the EC, but not on the fundamental flaws. In 2004, the Supreme Court First Bench, of Chief Justice V N Khare, Justices Babu and Kapadia had directed the election commission to consider the technical flaws in EVMs put forward by Satinath Choudhary, a US-based software engineer in a Public Interest Litigation. But the EC has failed to consider his representation.
There are many ways to prevent EVM fraud. One way to reduce the risk is to have machines print a paper record of each vote, which voters could then deposit into a conventional ballot box. While this procedure would ensure that each vote can be verified, using paper ballots defeats the purpose of electronic voting in the first place. Using two machines produced by different manufacturers would decrease the risk of a security compromise, but wouldn’t eliminate it.
A better way, it is argued in the cited International Electrical & Electronics Engineering Journal article, is to expose the software behind electronic voting machines to public scrutiny. The root problem of electronic machines is that the computer programs that run them are usually closely held trade secrets (it doesn’t help that the software often runs on the Microsoft Windows operating system, which is not the world’s most secure). Having the software closely examined and tested by experts not affiliated with the company would make it easier to close technical loopholes that hackers can exploit. Experience with Web servers has shown that opening software to public scrutiny can uncover potential security breaches.
Now the Madras High Court is soon to hear a PIL on the EVMs. This is good news. The time has arrived for a long hard look at these machines. Otherwise elections would soon lose their credibility. All political parties must collect evidence to determine how many constituencies could have been rigged. The number would not exceed 75 in my opinion.
We can identify them as follows: Any result in which the main losing candidate of a recognised party finds that more than 10 per cent of the polling booths showed less than five votes per booth, should be taken prima facie as a constituency in which rigging has taken place. This is because the main recognised parties usually have more than five workers per booth, and hence with their families would poll a minimum of 25 votes per booth for their party candidate. Hence if these 25 voters can given affidavits affirming who they had voted for, then the high court can treat it as evidence and order a full inquiry.
Here is news about Chidambaram’s highly suspect win.
Chennai: Delay in receipt and changed serial numbers of EVMs
The report received from the Collector on the counting of votes in Sivaganga constituency is seriously enquiring into the affair by reviewing the video recordings. During the counting of votes in the Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency, from round 1 to round 15, AIADMK Candidate Raja Kannappan was in the lead.
In a sudden twist, during the next two rounds, Home Minister P. Chidambaram was declared to be in the lead and declared elected by a difference of 3354 votes. By 12: 30 PM in a situation when most party agents had left the counting premises, at about 6 PM, the declaration of election was made and has led to intense debate.
Raja Kannappan’s complaint: Stating that there were malpractices in the counting of votes, Raja Kannappan has lodged a complaint with Naresh Gupta, State Election Commmissioner and asked for recount. In his petition, Raja Kannappan has noted: “When counting of votes had ended by 1:30 PM, I was declared to have been in the lead and that I had won by a difference of 3552 votes. Claiming that there were differences in the counting, the District Election Officer declined to declare the result. Thereafter, a declaration was made that P. Chidambaram had won”
There is a difference of 15,000 votes between the recordings made during the counting, by Election Party Agents and details mentioned in the Announcement Board.
Why delay? Electronic Voting Machines used in Alangudi Assembly segment were received in Karaikkudi counting centre only on May 14 (that is, the day after the election at 6 AM). The distance between Karaikudi and Alangudi is only 60 kms. Despite this, there has been delay in bringing in the EVMs. Some Machine numbers are also different from the one recorded earlier. On some EVMs, there are no signatures of Election Party Agents. There is no tally between the number of voters and the votes recorded. So said, Raja Kannappan in his petition.
After reviewing the petition, Naresh Gupta has ordered for a detailed report from the Election Officer, who is Collector Pankaj Kumar. Naresh Gupta who gave a Press Statement on May 20 that there were no malpractices in the counting process, has, on the very next day asked for a detailed report from the Collector. This has fueled further debate. Election Commission is seriously engaged in matching the video recordings with the reports made by the Collector.
Got the following in my email as a response to this blog post:
You might be interested to hear that Dr Anupam Saraph (CIO of Pune, India, and an adviser to the UN and the Asian Development Society) and Professor Madhav Nalapat (Director of the Department of Manipal University, India, as well as a UNESCO Peace Chair holder, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalapat) accidentally discovered files on an official Indian government website that seemed to have voting result numbers long before votes were actually cast.
On May 6th, while looking for routine, publicly available, candidate data during the election, a detailed Excel file of votes polled results for every candidate in India was found on the official website of the Election Commission of India (http://eci.nic.in/candidateinfo/frmcandidate.aspx). That was 9 days before the final votes were cast on May 15. And, even so, the Election Commission was not supposed to have access to votes cast data until May 16, when official counting was to be done.
On May 7 and 11, the Excel file was downloaded again from the Election Commission site. The numbers of votes cast for some candidates changed in each version of the file. In the version of the file downloaded on the last day before the official counting, May 15th, the votes cast results column was blank.
The downloaded files can be found here (the votes cast numbers are in Column N “votespolled”): http://government.wikia.com/wiki/Tracking_the_elections
When news of the files started to spread, the Election Commission closed its site from May 23 to 25. It was back up on the 25th but, until the 29th, you couldn’t download the file anymore. You can now, but the votes cast data for each candidate is gone (you can just see who won) even though now, two weeks after the election, is when that data should be available.
The implications are unsettling.