Mass EVM tampering difficult to do: US expert

Despite assurance from the Election Commission, there were allegations from some parties about EVM tampering.

Published: 23rd May 2019 03:08 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd May 2019 03:08 PM   |  A+A-

Image of EVMs and VVPATS used for representational purpose (Photo | G Satyanarayana/EPS)

Image of EVMs and VVPATS used for representational purpose (Photo | G Satyanarayana/EPS)

By PTI

WASHINGTON: Mass rigging of India's EVMs is "very difficult" to do as these machines are offline that makes them standalone units, an eminent American expert has said as concerned raised by the Opposition over the possibility of their tampering.

Ahead of the counting of votes in India, allegations were leveled by some parties that EVMs were being changed in the strong rooms in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

The Election Commission on Tuesday rejected reports of alleged EVM tampering and asserted that all machines used in the elections are absolutely safe in the strong rooms.

ALSO READ | How EVM strong-rooms are secured as per the Election Commission

"My impression looking at the serious studies is that it (Indian EVMs) is a pretty reliable technology.

"While no technology is perfect, but in the case of India, because these machines are offline, the only way of tampering with them is actually to physically tamper with the machine," Gelb told PTI in an interview.

Gelb, who has mainly done studies on EVMs in neighbouring Pakistan and some African countries, said that his understanding is that mass tampering with machines of the type used in India would be very difficult.

"It would be very difficult to tamper them (Indian EVMs) on a mass basis, without being on a coordinated basis, without being observed.

"And they almost certainly by their design will cut out other abuses which are very prevalent in manual systems like ballot stuffing," he said in response to a question.

And the addition of voter-verified paper audit trail or VVPAT adds another layer of check to the reliability and authenticity of EVMs, he said.

"It's advisable to have a technology which allows for a human affected process to audit it if necessary. That is usually some form of paper record.

"I believe that in the US now, almost all of the electronic voting technology is either based on a paper form or create some form of paper record to enable it to be audited," he said.

ALSO READ | VVPAT-EVM tallying will be the last step, not the first, says EC

Noting that question is not whether it does work, but the question of whether people feel they have the capacity to oversee it, he said in India some of the controversies about the electronic voting are different from the controversies that have gone on in other countries because India's not doing internet voting.

"It's simply a standalone electronic device, which is different from some of the voting systems that other countries have where you actually vote over the Internet," he said.

As the row over the EVMs persisted and opposition workers at several places kept a tight vigil at strongrooms storing them, the EC decided to follow the established procedure of counting VVPAT slips for the mandatory five polling stations per assembly segment of each parliamentary constituency at the end of the entire counting process.

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