“We appeal to all political parties to urgently recognise the threats posed by the manipulations of EVM that compromise a free and fair election. We urge you to initiate immediate measures for public awareness regarding possible manipulation by EVM. We also request you to move forward to reject EVM and revert to paper ballot.”Open letter to political parties
The above excerpt is from an open letter to all political parties written by a group of activists called ‘EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan’. Recent media reports on serious mismatch between the votes polled and votes counted in EVMs in the Lok Sabha election 2019 and the Election Commission of India’s (EC) silence on the questions raised through these reports, has led to this open letter, said the group.
“We are non-political party people and we are extremely worried that our votes are not reflected in the results. We want political parties to take up the EVM issue and demand on bringing back ballot papers. If we want to protect democracy then this is something we have to do.”Nandita Narain, Professor in Delhi University and member of EVM Virodhi Rashtiya Jan Andolan, told The Quint
The letter mentions several media reports pointing out major issues related to the EVMs.
Mismatch Between Votes Polled & Votes Counted
The first article that the letter mentions is The Quint’s article published on 31 May citing mismatch in votes polled and votes counted in EVMs in over 370 constituencies which went to poll in the first four phases of the Lok Sabha elections. In spite of repeated requests for a comment, the EC has maintained silence on the mismatch.
“Clearly, there is a mismatch in votes polled and counted, as per EC’s official records. So the candidates have enough ground to move court and demand 100% VVPAT counting. Hence, we are reaching out to political parties.”Nandita Narain, Professor in Delhi University and member of EVM Virodhi Rashtiya Jan Andolan
Illegal Movement of EVMs
The second issue that the letter raises is based on media reports which showed several videos of EVMs being stored in illegal cars and shops and then being moved, just days before the Lok Sabha election 2019 results were declared.
In response to multiple news reports, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Sunil Arora said “new fresh SOPs (standard operating procedures) have been issued for making the last mile transportation of even the reserve EVMs very, very stringent and rigid including the monitoring by GPS etc.”
But in response to a RTI query, EC said it has no information in “any material form” related to the GPS data and movement of these vehicles. Then why did the CEC make such a claim? Was it just to suppress uncomfortable questions raised by the media?
The Quint has learnt from reliable sources that the GPS facility was not used by the EC to track EVMs in the Lok Sabha elections, though EC is working on introducing GPS trackers for future elections.
20 Lakh EVMs Missing
Pointing out The Hindu’s report on the petition filed in the Bombay High Court on 20 lakh missing EVMs – which is pending in the court – the letter says that “EVMs are manufactured by the Electronics Corporation of India and Bharat Electronics, under the direct control of the Central Government, is a further cause of serious concern”.
Can EVMs be Tampered?
Till date several questions have been raised on EVM tampering. One of the biggest points that has gone in favour of EC is that “tampering of EVMs would require the involvement of thousands of people and several institutions, which is highly unlikely.”
The EC has always claimed that the micro-controller in the EVM is one-time programmable. Hence it cannot be tampered with.
Citing the Commonwealth Human Rights report, the letter says that in response to a RTI query, it was revealed that the micro-controller can be rewritten – which means that EVMs can be tampered with, if the programme of the micro-controller is changed.
The New York Times report revealed that remote access software can be installed in EVMs which enables manipulation via internet by external agents. Hence, busting the myth that the EVMs are hacker-proof.
“Nobody is saying that EVMs are bad in itself. But EVMs can be manipulated. It depends on the intention of the human nature. Then how can we take so much of risk if the intentions are not honourable?”Nandita Narain, Professor in Delhi University and member of EVM Virodhi Rashtiya Jan Andolan
The letter further points out that any machine can be tampered with and that “the credibility of the EC institution was at an all-time low in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, with blatant bias, unanswered questions, patently false information and opaqueness, and glaring unexplained errors marring the whole exercise of polling and counting.”