New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) The Election Commission on Saturday announced it will hold a hacking challenge from June 3 to prove that its electronic voting machines (EVMs) cannot be tampered with or hacked and came out with a framework of conditions under which this will be done.
Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said the challenge will be open to national and state parties which took part in the recent elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur and who claimed the EVMs were tampered despite technical and administrative safeguards of the poll panel.
The parties should demonstrate their claims within the security protocols prescribed by the Commission 3 at its headquarters here, Zaidi said.
He said any political party taking part in the hacking challenge must confirm participation by May 26. If their representatives fail to turn up on the appointed day and time, they will forfeit their right to take part.
He said the Commission will offer four EVMs from any four constituencies or booths of the choice of parties to demonstrate tamperability.
The ‘Challenge Statement I’ said the doubters should prove that the EVMs used in the five states were tampered to favoured a candidate or party by altering the results stored in the EVMs.
The claimants will have to alter the results in the Control Units used during the polls in exactly the same scenario as the EVMs remain within the technical and administrative safeguards of the EC after the polls.
This covers the storage period in strong rooms or during counting by using combination of keys on control unit (CU) and balloting unit (BU) or by communication to CU or BU or both via external wireless or bluetooth mobile phone.
‘Challenge Statement II’ asked the naysayers to prove that the EVMs used in the five states were tampered before or during the election day.
The claimants will have to alter the results in the EVMs used during these polls in exactly the same scenario as the EVMs remain within the technical and administrative safeguards of the Commission before the poll during the storage in strong rooms or during polling.
Listing the procedures for both, the poll panel said each party can nominate up to three persons for the challenge.
However, EVMs involved in any election petition or ordered to be sealed by courts will not be available for the challenge.
The representatives of the parties at state level would be at liberty to witness the opening of the EVM strongrooms at districts or constituencies where the machines are now stored.
They can inspect the machines for the various seals and accompany them during their transportation to the EC in sealed trunks.
A ‘Challenge Slot’ of four hours will be allowed to each political party for access to one of their chosen EVMs for the purpose of ‘Challenge Statement I and II.
In the ‘Challenge Conclusion’, the Commission said the challenge shall be deemed to have failed if the EVM becomes non-functional after the tamper attempt made by the challenger because the EC EVMs are designed to go into error mode if any unwarranted technical operations are conducted rather than recording any wrong results.
It will also be considered a failure if the EVM is functional and results displayed on the CU after conduct of challenge are the same as EC declared results stored on the chosen CU prior to pressing the clear button.
It will also be considered a failure if the challenger violates any of the prescribed guidelines for the challenge or if he withdraws from the challenge.
Referring to the demands of some naysayers that the EC should permit them to take the EVMs with them for tampering or allow changing their internal circuit of the EVMS, the EC said this is like saying that they should be permitted to manufacture a new machine and introduce their new EVMs in its system.
“Further, it is common knowldege that changing the internal circuit of any electronic device is like changing the whole device itself after which it is not the same older device.
“As any person with common sense will be able to appreciate, a non-EC EVM or an EVM with a different internal circuit is simply a different machine or look alike of EC EVM and hence can never be guaranteed by EC to give correct results.
“Such a scenario is completely ruled out within our administrative safeguards and that is why it is not proposed in the challenge,” the EC said.
The EC said it would leave no stone unturned in preserving the purity, integrity and credibility of the elections and reinforcing the faith and trust of the people in the electoral democracy.