CNN-IBN’s hatchet job

 

New Delhi: The controversy over electronic voting machines (EVMs) has a new twist. The Election Commission has challenged a software developer to prove his claim that EVMs can be programmed to guarantee victories for particular candidates or parties.

Ripujit Nomthondam claims the software he has developed can be put into any EVM by activating an already existing secret loop to ensure that by default every fifth vote will go in favour of a chosen candidate.

“The software can give two different results: one is a correct count and the other manipulated. I have put one invalid key that can activate the secret loop in the programme code (of EVMs),” claims Nomthondam.

But the Election Commission points out that Nomthondam’s software has been developed on a laptop and without access to EVMs. The Saigal brothers, Krishan and Omesh, who first talked about the software, reject the safety claims of the Election Commission’s experts.

“We don’t have an EVM so we have asked the Election Commission to give us a machine and give us 10 days. We will show it can be done (EVMs can be tampered with),” says Krishan Saigal. “It is amazing that for Rs 500 a young programmer in seven days can produce a programme which can rig elections.”

Meanwhile, head of Election Commission’s experts, Professor PV Indiresan, laughs off Saigal’s complaints about the EVMs. “This is like asking Sita to prove her chastity by giving agni pariksha. That is all I can say,” says Indiresan.

And along with Indiresan the Election Commission believes they have foolproof logic on their side and says Nomthondam is painting a rather simplistic picture.

It requires six bits of information to access one candidate on every machine and would require the complicity of a large number of officials if even a small section of the 12 lakh EVMs are to be manipulated. Besides, one has to know the source code of the EVMs to programme it to rig.

“The EVMs software programme is frozen and cannot be entered and it cannot be rigged,” says Indiresan.

The Election Commission has challenged the Saigals and Nomthondam to prove their case. Sources tell CNN-IBN that the Election Commission is bringing in a powerful panel comprising experts and the two manufacturers of EVMs, Bharat Electronics Ltd. and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd, to prove the EVMs’ safety.

It has also challenged doubters to prove their suspicions about the machines.

“Come and prove. We will videograph the whole process—we throw a challenge. We are 100 per cent confident about the machines,” said Election Commissioner SY Quraishi.

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