Information accessed under Right to Information (RTI) Act is once again fueling questions about security of electronic voting machines (EVMs), which are at the centre of a debate on tamper-proof technology. The Election Commission of India, however, has brushed aside all such suggestions and maintained that it follows strict protocol to guard EVMs, and once looted, these machines are condemned and never find their way back into the system. Information provided by the Election Commission under RTI has revealed at least 70 cases of theft of EVM across three states – Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – over successive elections.
In Gujarat, a case dating back to 2007 has revealed an instance where during a training programme, the trainer handed over the EVMs to another person and went for lunch. According to information provided under RTI, “When he returned, the machine was found missing.” Investigation is on in the matter and lie detector tests have also been conducted.
So far, the main contention of the Election Commission on claims of EVM tampering has been that a machine has to be accessed for it to be tampered. Speaking to ET, Election Commission’s deputy commissioner, Sudeep Jain, said, “The referred cases (except Gujarat) are cases of loot during the election from polling stations and not thefts. EVMs were looted from the polling booths by naxalites/miscreants with a plausible ulterior motive to vitiate the election process.