Democracy 2.0: Aadhaar Data May be Used for Voting Frauds in India

Aadhaar Cards in India. Photo courtesy: UIDAI
Aadhaar Cards in India. Photo courtesy: UIDAI

It is possible to hack the Aadhaar databases, link the individual records with the EVMs, and change the vote count in favor of a particular candidate of a particular party.

By Rakesh Raman

Rakesh Raman
Rakesh Raman

Of late, many political parties in India have raised their concerns about the vulnerability of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

They contend that Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s party BJP has been winning elections – including the Lok Sabha election of 2014 – by tampering with EVMs.

As a result, the opposition parties concur that there is no so-called “Modi wave” in the country and if there is any wave, it is the EVM wave that helps BJP win.

Modi must be aware of the fact. He knows that with his government’s poor performance since 2014, his party BJP should not expect to win the Lok Sabha election in 2019 if election was held in a fair manner.

While people are already skeptical about the EVMs, Modi has decided to go a step further by targeting the unique identities of voters embedded in Aadhaar databases. More than 1 billion people have been issued Aadhaar cards in a totally haphazard manner without ensuring the security of Aadhaar data stored in connected computers.

Aadhaar is a 12-digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on behalf of the Government of India. This number serves as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.

Now Modi is aggressively pushing the use of Aadhaar that he and his party had been criticizing in the past when BJP was in the opposition. The Election Commission of India (ECI) – which is a toothless organization – has understood Modi’s tacit direction and it has decided to persist with EVMs despite their perceived vulnerability. And Modi seems to be determined to use Aadhaar data of voters with the EVMs.

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With Aadhaar-EVM connectivity, millions of votes can be collected unscrupulously for a particular party – say, BJP. And with Modi’s frequent interactions with Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, it can be assumed that Russia might help Modi win the future elections by exploiting Aadhaar-EVM links and other digital tricks.

Russia is believed to be an expert nation to change the outcome of elections, as it is said it has done in the U.S. presidential election to help Donald Trump win. It is expected that it will emulate the same model for Modi.

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had raised doubts about the faulty EVMs and stolen voter databases in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Stein had launched the Count My Vote Campaign, saying that machine insecurity, inconstant practices, and the large number of vote changes all point to a system that is broken. It is believed that Russian hackers helped Trump campaign steal voter databases and change vote count in Trump’s favor.

[ Download the Consultative Paper: Need to Transform the Political System in India ]

The voter databases in the U.S. are similar to Aadhaar databases in India. It is possible to hack the Aadhaar databases, link the individual records with the EVMs, and change the vote count in favor of a particular candidate of a particular party.

Aadhaar-EVM Connectivity
Aadhaar-EVM Connectivity

Since Aadhaar is expected to be the primary target to steal votes, the Modi government is making Aadhaar compulsory for all bank account holders, although most of them have already submitted their different identities with the banks.

In its ostensible messaging, the Modi government is saying that Aadhaar will help check the rising tide of corruption in the country. However, no government in India is willing to stop corruption because it has become the lifeblood of Indian bureaucrats and politicians.

According to Transparency International, a global anti-corruption group, India’s rank for 2016 is 79 in a list of 176 countries that it has studied. In other words, India is more corrupt than 78 countries. And the corruption is increasing every day in every street of India.

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Obviously, Aadhaar cannot be a tool to weed out corruption from the country. In fact, now Aadhaar can be a license to win any election in India. The opposition parties are not quite aware of this fact because politicians in most political parties of India are naive or illiterate.

The main opposition party Congress is almost dead, as it lacks leadership. Congress keeps criticizing Modi in a totally random manner without following any professional communication strategy. There is no other political party that can challenge Modi’s might.

Modi seems to be the only politician in India who knows how to win elections by hook or by crook. But he is vigilant and selects only the key elections that he wants to win.

For example, recently he selected Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections that he decided to win despite opposition uproar about election frauds.

The opposition parties in India have failed to realize that a major shakeup is happening in the political world where the success of the political parties is determined by their ability to rig the elections, and not by their rhetoric.

Modi has understood this simple fact. So, now his focus is to bring everything – including the citizens’ money – in the form of digital data which is prone to hacking. His diktat to make digitized Aadhaar compulsory will help him win elections and control every step of every Indian.

Welcome to Democracy 2.0.

This article is part of our new editorial section that focuses on Lok Sabha Election 2019 in India.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a government’s National award-winning journalist and social activist. He has formed an environment-protection group called Green Group in Delhi. Earlier, he had been associated with the United Nations (UN) through United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as a digital media expert to help businesses use technology for brand marketing and business development. He also runs a free school for deserving children under his NGO – RMN Foundation.

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