Asia

Articles about voting issues in Asia, Australia and Oceania.

India: Revert to ballot papers, demand activists | Manan Kumar/DNA

A large number of civil rights groups including National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM) and Nation for Farmers (NFF) along with several political parties have decided to launch a nationwide people’s movement on August 9 to reject Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and bring back paper ballot in elections. “We will be starting it on the eve of Quit India movement with the slogan “EVM Bharat Chhodo, Ballot Paper Vapis Lao,” said Dr. Sunilam, convenor of NAPM. The two-day meeting participated by representatives of political parties discussed the shocking 2019 elections results that paled even the election results of 1977 when anger was at its height against the Indira Gandhi government.

Full Article: Revert to ballot papers, demand activists.

Philippines: Smartmatic still wants to be part of Philippine elections | Ralf Rivas/Rappler

Technology company Smartmatic remains optimistic that it will still be the government’s pick to be the provider of vote-counting machines (VCMs) for succeeding elections, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s view that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) must end ties with them. Machines that reject ballots, transmission delays, and over-voting which eventually led to votes not being counted were just some of the problems encountered during the May 2019 elections. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Comelec hosted a technology fair on Monday, July 15, to scout for possible alternatives to Smartmatic’s system. Despite the President’s criticism, Smartmatic showed up and presented hardware such as a direct recording electronic voting machine or touchscreen.

Full Article: Smartmatic still wants to be part of Philippine elections.

India: Raj Thackeray requests Election Commission to hold assembly polls by ballot paper | The Statesman

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Monday wrote to the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding “restoring faith in the election process in the country”. Raj Thackeray has written, “Individuals have communicated their dissatisfaction with the manner in which elections are being conducted in the last few years and raised questions regarding EVMs. We request you to get back to ballot papers and appeal to have assembly election in Maharashtra with ballot papers only.” In July 2018, Raj Thackeray had alleged that the BJP had won the past elections by manipulating the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). “The EVMs had helped the BJP win the elections in the past. Otherwise, how can any candidate get zero votes in polls?” he had questioned while speaking to reporters. Representatives of 21 opposition parties led by TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had met the Election Commission raising concerns over the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPAT slips two days ahead of counting of votes for the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. The opposition parties have been complaining about EVM malfunctioning and demanding the use of ballot papers even before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Full Article: Raj Thackeray requests EC to hold assembly polls by ballot paper.

India: Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea questioning electronic voting machine use in elections | ANI

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea which questioned the use of electronic voting machines (EVM) in polls and sought the cancellation of recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman heard the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma challenging the use of EVMs in polls. “What are you asking for Mr Sharma? You want us to set aside the entire Lok Sabha elections?” said Justice Nariman refusing to interfere with the petition, terming it “devoid of merits”.

Full Article: SC refuses to entertain PIL questioning EVM use in elections | Business Standard News.

India: Supreme Court seeks Election Commission response on electronic voting machine malfunction complaint | Outlook

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Election Commission to respond on a plea seeking to remove the provision which criminalizes the reporting of malfunctioning of the electronic voting machines, if proven false. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gagoi asked the poll panel to file its reply within two weeks. The court was hearing a plea filed by advocate Sunil Ahya which has sought liberty to register complaint related with EVM malfunctioning. Ahya said that on August 14 2013, the Conduct of Elections Rules, was amended to insert a new rule 49MA to prescribe a procedure to be followed in case of a complaint realted to the EVM. Ahya told the court that Rule 49MA of the Conduct of Election Rules with Section 177 of Indian Penal Code criminalizes the reporting of malfunctioning of EVM and voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), which may not be fair and just to charge a voter reporting such a complaint.

Full Article: SC seeks EC response on EVM malfunction complaint.

Philippines: Supreme Court junks pleas on source code review in vote counting machines | Benjamin Pulta/The Inquirer

The Supreme Court (SC) has turned down petitions, which seek to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow groups to open and review the source code in the vote counting machines (VCMs) as provided for under Republic Act 9369 or the Election Modernization Act of 1997. In an banc decision dated April 30 and released Monday, the High Court likewise denied the motion of the petitioners — Sen. Richard Gordon, the Bagumbayan-NVP Movement Inc. and Tanggulang Demokrasya — to hold former Comelec chair Sixto Brilliantes Jr. in contempt for his failure to comply with his commitments to the Court during the May 8, 2013 oral arguments to, among others, make the source code available for review and to grant more time to the parties to comply with the requirements to do so. “In deciding that Chairman Brillantes is not liable for indirect contempt, the Court focuses solely on the undertakings that were directly promised to the Court, not those which the petitioner feels were promised,” the SC added. The High Court dismissed on the ground of “being moot and academic” while their plea to cite Brilliantes for contempt was junked for “utter lack of merit.”

Full Article: SC junks pleas on source code review in vote counting machines | Philippine Canadian Inquirer.

Philippines: Gordon, groups lose bid to scrutinize source code | Tetch Torres-Tupas/The Inquirer

The Supreme Court has dismissed the petitions filed by Senator Richard Gordon and two other groups asking that it compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow groups to open and review the source code in the vote-counting machines provided for under Republic Act 9369 or the Election Modernization Act of 1997. Petitioners Bagumbayan-NVP Movement Inc. and Tanggulang Demokrasya specifically want the high court to ask the Comelec to use digital electronic election returns and provide for the basic security safeguards, which include the source code review, vote verification, and random audit in compliance with RA 9369. The high court took note of the existence of several rules and resolutions governing the conduct of the automated elections, including Resolution No. 10458 (General Instructions for the conduct of Random Manual Audit relative to the May 13, 2019 Automated National and Local Elections and subsequent elections thereafter), on December 5, 2018, Resolution No. 10460, or the General Instructions on the constitution, composition and appointment of the Electoral Board; use of the Vote Counting Machines; the process of testing and sealing of the Vote Counting Machines; and the voting, counting and transmission of election results, among others.

Full Article: Gordon, groups lose bid to scrutinize source code.

India: Activists write open letter to parties, seek all future elections be held with paper ballots | The Times of India

A group of activists Thursday jointly demanded that all elections in the country in future should be held with paper ballots, following reports of alleged irregularities in functioning and transport of electronic voting machines during the recent Lok Sabha polls. At a press conference here, the activists from different organisation also released an ‘open letter’ addressed to political parties, saying, “The opposition parties should raise the matter with the electoral authorities.” Activist and poet Gauhar Raza, former DUTA chief Nandita Narain, JNUSU president N Sai Balaji, AISA Delhi president Kawalpreet Kaur and Shabnam Hashmi, among others, cited various incidents reported during the Lok Sabha polls. “There were reports of several EVMs being left unattended, or many voters complaining about malfunctioning of EVMs. Then, there was a debate over counting of VVPATs. The elections left several doubts in our minds,” Kaur told reporters.

Full Article: Activists write open letter to parties, seek all future elections be held with paper ballots | India News - Times of India.

India: Satara MP demands re-election using ballot papers | Anagha Deshpande/The Hindu

Nationalist Congress Party MP from Satara Udayanraje Bhosale on Monday voiced support for the ballot paper voting system as against the Electronic Voting Machine, which has been mired in controversy following multiple allegations of rigging. Mr. Bhosale’s statement comes days after Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president Prakash Ambedkar announced he would be taking the issue to court. Saying that the EVM process was ‘manipulative’, Mr. Bhosale said that a difference of 672 votes was observed between the votes cast and votes counted in constituencies like Wai, Koregaon, Karad, Patan and Satara. “The statistics are there for everyone to see. It is clear that something was wrong with the entire election process. I don’t know why they call the EVMs fool-proof,” Mr. Bhosale said.

Full Article: Satara MP demands re-election using ballot papers - The Hindu.

India: Citizens launch campaign against use of electronic voting machines for elections | National Herald

The Election Commission had released several versions of the voter data and several have questioned if the EVMs were switched or manipulated. Jan Andolan in Delhi has launched a campaign, ‘EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan’ against the use of Electronic Voting Machines for elections in India. “We appeal to all political parties to urgently recognise the threats posed by the manipulations of EVM that compromise a free and fair election. We urge you to initiate immediate measures for public awareness regarding possible manipulation by EVM,” read the campaign statement. It asks political parties to recognise the threat to Indian democracy being posed by the use of EVMs. “The depth and scale of BJP victories in the Hindi heartland states and the total elimination of major opponents should raise alarm bells about the real possibility of EVM tampering,” says the campaigners. EVM tampering can manufacture a distorted political narrative, demoralise the opponents and derail united strategies.

Full Article: Citizens launch campaign against use of EVM machines for elections.

Philippines: Atienza agrees with Duterte to replace Smartmatic | Inquirer

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza has agreed with President Rodrigo Duterte to replace vote counting machines (VCMs) provider Smartmatic in time for the next elections. In a Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum on Wednesday, Atienza said Duterte was right to call for the replacement of Smartmatic. “I’m happy with his statement, Smartmatic must go,” Atienza said. During Duterte’s visit in Japan last month, the President told the Commission on Elections to “dispose of” Smartmatic following numerous election irregularities, including computer glitches experienced by several VCMs.

Full Article: Atienza agrees with Duterte to replace Smartmatic | Inquirer News.

Taiwan: U.S. helping to protect Taiwan against Chinese election meddling | Chiang Chin-yeh and Evelyn Kao/Focus Taiwan

In anticipation that China will try to meddle with Taiwan’s presidential election next year, the United States has started dialogue with Taiwan to help strengthen its ability to deal with the issue, a U.S. official said Wednesday. “It’s a very important issue for us,” Randall Schriver, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said during the conclusion of a forum on Asian policies that touched on Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election. “There’s no question in our minds that China will try to meddle, as it has done in every previous election,” Schriver said. In 1996, it came in the form of missile exercises. In 2000, then-Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基) threatened the people of Taiwan, he noted. Schriver was referring to the incident in the lead up to Taiwan’s 1996 presidential election when China fired missiles into waters near Taiwan in an apparent move to dissuade people from voting for then-President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

Full Article: U.S. helping to protect Taiwan against Chinese election meddling | Politics | FOCUS TAIWAN - CNA ENGLISH NEWS.

China: Telegram traces cyber-attack during Hong Kong protests to China | AFP

Encrypted messaging service Telegram suffered a major cyber-attack that originated from China, the company’s CEO said Thursday, linking it to the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong. Many protesters in the city have used Telegram to evade electronic surveillance and coordinate their demonstrations against a controversial Beijing-backed plan that would allow extraditions from the semi-autonomous territory to the mainland. Demonstrations descended into violence Wednesday as police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who tried to storm the city’s parliament — the worst political crisis Hong Kong has seen since its 1997 handover from Britain to China. Telegram announced Wednesday that it was suffering a “powerful” Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which involves a hacker overwhelming a target’s servers by making a massive number of junk requests. It warned that users in many regions may face connection issues.

Full Article: Telegram traces cyber-attack during HK protests to China | AFP.com.

India: Roads, boats and elephants: How India mobilised a million polling stations | Simon Scarr, Manas Sharma and Marco Hernandez/Reuters

The final day of voting in India’s mammoth general election was on Sunday. Over 900 million people were eligible to cast their ballots in the staggered seven-phase polling. The world’s biggest election involved around 1 million polling stations spread across the country, from remote corners of the Himalayas to crocodile-infested mangrove swamps of the Andaman Islands. Each polling station served about 900 voters on average but some catered for over 3,000 people. Each voting location used electronic voting machines (EVMs) which were first introduced in 1982. Instead of issuing a ballot paper, electors cast their votes by pressing a button next to a candidate’s name and party symbol. The Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system is attached to the EVM to confirm the vote. It prints a small slip of paper carrying the symbol and name of the candidate voted for. This is visible to the voter for a short period, and can be later used by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to verify the votes. After voting, people receive a mark of purple ink on their index finger as an indication that they have cast their ballot.

Full Article: How India mobilised a million polling stations.

Indonesia: Hacktivists, Bots, Elections: Indonesia Stepping Up Its Cybersecurity | Nur Yasmin/Jakarta Globe

The government should be thanked for their role in improving cybersecurity in Indonesia in the past five years, including during elections, an expert has said. “I’m seeing really good progress in Indonesian cybersecurity. A few years ago, it wasn’t as strong,” Fernando Serto, director of security technology and strategy at Akamai APJ said on the sidelines of the Akamai Security Summit in Jakarta at the end of last month. Serto is an expert in technology, specifically “zero-trust” web security and cybersecurity. He is a familiar face in Indonesia and has been assisting the government and local organizations with his expertise. Akamai APJ is the world’s largest and most trusted cloud delivery and security platform based in the United States. Serto said cyber attacks are increasing and constantly evolving, especially bot attacks.

Full Article: Hacktivists, Bots, Elections: Indonesia Stepping Up Its Cybersecurity.

Philippines: Voting machine glitches disrupt Philippines poll | Andreo Calonzo and Philip J. Heijmans/Washington Post

Malfunctioning machines and hundreds of arrests for suspected vote buying disrupted the Philippines’ midterm elections on Monday. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is poised for a majority win in both houses of Congress, even with slowing economic growth and controversial policies including a deadly drug war. Over 18,000 government positions are up for grabs in the midterm elections, including half of the 24-seat Senate and about 300 posts in the House. Polls are set to close at 6pm and among the stumbles have been defects in 600 voting machines, causing long queues and delays in several areas, the Commission on Elections said.

Full Article: Voting machine glitches disrupt Philippines poll.

Indonesia: Can e-voting solve Indonesia’s election woes? | The Jakarta Post

The idea of holding digital elections is picking up steam following reports that dozens of election workers died of reported extreme fatigue during and after organizing the nation’s first-ever concurrent elections, billed by many as “the world’s most complex”. While it is hard to determine if the April 17 general elections directly caused the deaths, a consensus has been reached that the current election system — in which five different paper-based elections are held on a single day — has to be changed. One of the proposed changes is for Indonesia to apply e-voting to make elections less complicated. The proposal, however, remains controversial, with lawmakers saying that even after so many election-related deaths, e-voting still seems like a distant dream. The controversy revolves around the question of whether Indonesia — an archipelago with a population of more than 250 million people — is ready for e-voting and whether the technology is the right solution to election problems. Lawmakers, election organizers, election observers and election engineers have given different answers.

Full Article: Can e-voting solve Indonesia’s election woes? - Politics - The Jakarta Post.

India: How the world’s largest democracy casts its ballots | The Conversation

About 600 million Indian citizens are expected to cast their votes over a period of 39 days ending May 19, in the ongoing election for their country’s parliament. There are roughly 900 million eligible voters, and the country has typically seen about two-thirds of them turn out to polling places. I have been working on the security of electronic voting systems for more than 15 years, and, along with other colleagues, have been interested in understanding how a nation can tally that many votes cast over such a long period. India uses a domestically designed and manufactured electronic voting machine – as many as 4 million of them at 1 million polling places, at least some in extremely remote locations. The first version of the Indian electronic voting machine debuted in the state election in Kerala in 1982. Now they’re used in elections throughout the country, which happen on different days in different areas. When a voter arrives at the polling place, she presents a photo ID and the poll officer checks that she is on the electoral roll. When it’s her turn to vote, a polling official uses an electronic voting machine’s control unit to unlock its balloting unit, ready to accept her vote. The balloting unit has a very simple user interface: a series of buttons with candidate names and symbols. To vote, the voter simply presses the button next to the candidate of her choice. After each button press, a printer prints out the voter’s choice on paper and displays it to the voter for a few seconds, so the person may verify that the vote was recorded correctly. Then the paper is dropped into a locked storage box. The whole system runs on a battery, so it does not need to be plugged in.

Full Article: How the world's largest democracy casts its ballots.

India: Opposition parties take electronic voting machine woes to Election Commission | The Hindu

Opposition parties on Saturday approached the Election Commission alleging the display of party name only under the BJP symbol on EVMs during a mock poll in West Bengal’s Barrackpore constituency. However the poll panel has maintained that the same insignia was used for the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. A delegation comprising senior Congress leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Ahmed Patel and Trinamool Congress’ Dinesh Trivedi and Derek O’Brien met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and demanded that either all such EVMs be removed from the remaining phases of elections or the names of other parties be added too. The EVMs display the party symbols, name of the candidates and their photographs. “On EVMs, the letters ‘BJP’ are visible under the party’s symbol. No other party’s name is there. Either remove all machines which mention the BJP clearly or all other parties’ name should be added in all such machines. Till then the use of these machines has to be stopped,” Mr. Singhvi told reporters after meeting the CEC.

Full Article: Opposition parties take EVM woes to Election Commission - The Hindu.

Philippines: Voting machines to service more voters in 2019 polls | Rappler

Each vote-counting machine (VCM) will service more voters in the May 13 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday, April 26. The maximum number of voters that can use each VCM is now 1,000. In the 2016 elections, the maximum was 800 voters per VCM. In a DZMM interview, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez explained that the number of registered voters has risen to 61 million this year from 54 million in 2016. Jimenez said the number of VCMs in the Comelec’s custody, however, stayed at 92,000. “Unfortunately hindi sumabay ang bilang ng makina natin. Ang bilang ng makina natin, ganoon pa rin. So ang ginawa ng Comelec, tinaasan ‘yung dami ng taong gagamit ng bawat makina,” Jimenez said. (Unfortunately, the number of machines was not able to keep up. The number of machines stayed the same. So the Comelec increased the number of people who will use each machine.)

Full Article: Voting machines to service more voters in 2019 polls.