What Was the Role of EVMs in Karnataka Election?

Voters waiting at a polling booth in India. Photo: PIB
Voters waiting at a polling booth in India. Photo: PIB

Major political parties in India have repeatedly complained about the vulnerability of EVMs. It is also being observed that when EVMs malfunction, they vote only in favor of BJP which runs with Lotus election symbol.

By Rakesh Raman

Only the mysteries of Egyptian mummies come somewhere close to the extent of enigma that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have brought to the elections in India.

The monolithic Congress party – which has been virtually routed from the country – has once again blamed EVMs for its poor performance in Karnataka.

Congress alleged Tuesday – after the election results were declared – that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi tampered with EVMs to get the results in its favor. However, the spineless leaders of Congress never protested loudly against the EVMs before the election.

As the vulnerability of EVMs is clearly visible, it is believed that only those politicians and political parties will win future elections in India who know the art of stealing voter databases and hacking EVMs.

The weaknesses of EVMs in election systems was manifested once again by professional hackers who participated in the recent Def Con convention in Las Vegas where they broke into the voting machines to manipulate the voting options.

A dedicated platform “hacker voting village” at the convention allowed hackers to break into over 30 popular voting machines as well as voter databases to exploit the vulnerabilities in order to change the outcome of an election.

Reports suggest that hackers were able to gain unauthorized access into voting machines and e-polling software within an hour. They could also steal remote access to tamper with the voting machines.

The new Def Con experiments must be an eye-opener for Election Commission of India (ECI) that baselessly claims that it is safe to use EVMs.

Of late, major political parties in India have repeatedly complained about the vulnerability of EVMs. It is also being observed that when EVMs malfunction, they vote only in favor of BJP which runs with Lotus election symbol.

Earlier, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati had complained about the EVM-based voting fraud in the Uttar Pradesh (U.P) election. But India’s Election Commission had rejected her complaint.

As the vulnerabilities of EVMs are becoming quite visible, besides Mayawati other politicians are also demanding voting on traditional ballot papers. The president of Delhi State Congress, Ajay Maken, had said that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) election should be held on traditional ballot papers instead of EVMs.

Maken had asked Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to support the demand to hold MCD election on ballot papers because many people have raised doubts about EVMs. The election authorities – which work under Modi government – refused to entertain the opposition complaints. The MCD election was held on EVMs. Obviously, BJP won.

Mayawati – who is a former chief minister of U.P. – had blamed the BJP headed by PM Modi for the voting fraud. She said that BJP rigged the election by tampering with the EVMs in U.P.

Although BJP rejected Mayawati’s allegations, the BSP leader had filed a complaint against Modi’s party. In its complaint to the Chief Election Commissioner, Mayawati’s BSP had stated that BJP had hired software and technology experts to manipulate the voting machines and win the election.

Mayawati said that similar rigging had happened in the 2014 Lok Sabha election also that Modi won to become the PM. It is believed that the last Lok Sabha election result would not have favoured BJP if the voting had happened on paper ballots.

While the BJP did not win last year’s Punjab election, it is believed that it did not tamper with EVMs in Punjab because it would have helped its ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) – which is a non-Hindu party – form the government. As BJP is aspiring to make India a Hindu Rashtra (a nation only for Hindus) it did not want a Sikh party SAD to win in Punjab.

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

Now it is argued that the so-called ‘Modi wave’ was not driven by voters, but it was driven by voting machines. Obviously, BJP will always oppose paper ballots and any investigation into the misuse of EVMs. And it goes without saying that the Election Commission of India (ECI) will always obey Modi.

However, the opposition parties must unite and demand all future elections on paper ballots. They must also demand the formation of a special all-party commission to probe the EVM-based voting frauds if they happened in the recent State / MCD elections as well as the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

The Indian opposition parties can learn from the example of 2016 U.S. Presidential election that was allegedly hacked by Russian hackers to help Donald Trump win. Now, special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the election frauds and if they changed the outcome of the election.

The U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers had targeted 21 U.S. state election systems in the 2016 presidential race, although Russia has dismissed the allegations.

The Robert Mueller investigation is also supposed to prevent external meddling in the future U.S. elections.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a government’s National award-winning journalist and social activist. 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 is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

Photo courtesy: Press Information Bureau

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