The brouhaha over use of smart electronic voting machines (EVMs) in India’s legislative elections has reached an ear-splitting pitch, leaving the 850 million constituents confused and confounded. All set for the five-year general polls scheduled for 2019, India’s Election Commission has time and again asseverated that the voter-friendly devices are tamper-proof and cannot be manipulated, but opposition parties have been demanding a ban on the high-tech gizmos and want the poll panel to return to the good old paper ballot system. Browned off by the belligerent mood of seven national and 35 recognized state parties bent on blowing the whistle, the exasperated commission has now thrown a gauntlet before them and invited politicos of all hues to examine the EVMs from June 3 onwards and show how the indigenously-manufactured machines can be hacked.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of India.
Computer Scientist who prefers paper. That is how the American magazine The Atlantic described her earlier this year. Having worked at IBM for long, Barbara Simons (76) is among the pioneers in computer science. When, therefore, she began saying that electronic voting was not safe, people took her to be a ‘crank’. But undeterred, Simons became one of the founders of American organization Verified Voters, which has been in the forefront of the movement to replace machines with paper ballots in American elections. … Simons is skeptical about steps taken by tech companies to enhance cyber security. Pointing out that all 50 states in the USA use computerised scanners for vote counting, she claimed that few states had a system of post-editing auditing to detect manipulation. “Mandatory audits, in the form of hand counts of randomized samplings of ballots, are essential to protect against invisible vote theft,” Simons said, adding, “in an unaudited system, malicious code could easily go unnoticed. “It’s not rocket science,” she said. “Any halfway-decent programmer could do it.”
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is useless unless a statistically significant number of VVPATS are manually counted after the election to ascertain that they functioned properly, say two American computer scientists who believe that the only safe election technology is the ‘paper ballot’. In other words, the Election Commission’s provision of testing VVPATs at just ONE polling booth in each constituency is not good enough to inspire confidence.National Herald on Sunday asked two pioneers engaged in advocacy for election integrity in the United States, Barbara Simons and Mark Halvorson to comment on the controversy over Electronic Voting Machines in India. While Simons, a computer scientist who worked for IBM, was one of the founders of the non-profit Verified Voting (verifiedvoting.org), Halvorson continues to be on its board of advisors. He was also the founder and former director of Citizens for Election Integrity, Minnesota (US) and helped organize the first national Audit Summit in the United States in 2007.
Some 1,000 Tibetan in India have registered themselves with the Election Commission ahead of the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh. This has left many in the Tibetan community apprehensive about how this will affect their ongoing struggle for a free Tibet.
Information accessed by TOI from Tibetan settlements in McLeodganj, which is the capital of Tibetan government-in-exile, the Nanchen Tibetan division, Bir Tibetan division and Dege division in Bir Billing area of the state has seen most of the Tibetan voters registered for the upcoming polls. The total population of Tibetan refugees in this area is around 22,000, which is second highest in India after Karnataka’s Bylakuppe town. “Our only aim is to struggle for regaining our country. If we mingle with local political systems, there are chances that our people may be diverted from the main aim. There is no doubt that India has done more than enough for us but we can’t afford to deviate from our purpose”, says Sonam, head of Nangchen division of Tibetan settlement in Bir Billing.
It is for the first time that Tibetans living in India will participate in assembly elections in India. They are all set to cast their vote for new government in Himachal Pradesh. Tibetans started registering themselves as voters during parliamentary elections. This time too new voters have registered for upcoming polls in the state. Officials said that about 300 new voters have been registered this time. This hill town is considered as the global capital of the Tibetan residents across the world. Voting rights to Tibetans were granted in 2014. There are mixed reactions from the community on the move. Majority of the Tibetans believe that Indian citizenship would affect their freedom movement. Tibetan government in exile has not put any restrictions on Tibetans in this regard stating that it’s a matter of personal choice.
India: Big data firm Cambridge Analytica in talks with Indian opposition party for 2019 polls: Sources | Moneycontrol
Cambridge Analytica, the international data mining and analysis company that famously helped United States President Donald Trump win the elections through a targeted communication campaign, is in talks with a large opposition party in India for the upcoming general elections in 2019. In a presentation made to the party in August, Cambridge Analytica has etched a data-driven strategy to target voters on social media, analysing online user behaviour and “connecting the dots” across different citizen databases. According to two people familiar with the discussions, the big data analytics company whose tagline says “Data drives all we do,” has chalked out a comprehensive plan for the Indian political party.
India: First-past-post: House panel asks parties if election system should change | The Indian Express
Initiating what could be the first structured discussion on the issue, an all-party Parliamentary panel is exploring “different systems of elections”, other than the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system that is currently followed in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. Citing “apprehensions” that the FPTP may not be the “best suited system”, as “evident” from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma, has sent a six-page “Questionnaire on Electoral Reforms” to all parties and the Election Commission. “There are different systems of elections — like first-past-the-post (FPTP), list system (open list and closed system), proportional representation, ranked or preferential voting, and mixed systems. In our country we follow FPTP for Parliament and Legislative Assemblies’ elections and proportional representation for the election of President…What is your view in the matter and please also suggest the alternative system, if any,” says the questionnaire.
India: Doubts over electronic voting security again as RTI reveals theft of 70 voting machines | Times of India
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.
A little over 24,000 overseas Indians, who are entitled to cast their ballot in India, have registered themselves as voters. Now, in a bid to attract more such Indian citizens living abroad to become voters here, the Election Commission has launched a portal which allows them to register online. The portal also has a long list of frequently asked questions to help people understand the procedure. While there are no estimates on the number of overseas Indians eligible to vote in India, only 24,348 have registered with the poll panel.
The large non-resident Indian community in the US has welcomed the recent decision of the Union Cabinet to extend proxy voting to overseas Indians. “We welcome this move,” Thomas Abraham, chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) said. Still an Indian citizen, despite having obtained a green card for more than four decades now, Mr Abraham said the decision of the Indian government in this regard is a dream come true for people like him and many others. The Election Commission of India (EC) estimates that there are about 16 million Indian citizens living outside of which about 70 per cent are eligible to vote. While the significant portion of them are in the Middle east, in the US the estimate range from 800,000 to 1.5 million. An overwhelming majority of them are young, either university students or those on H-1B visas.