India

Articles about voting issues in the Republic of India.

India: For democracy’s sake, electronic voting machines must have proper VVPAT-based audit | Hindustan Times

The bizarre claim made in London recently about the alleged hacking of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in previous elections has done more harm than good by diverting public attention from genuine concerns about EVMs and the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) lack of transparency in the matter. The controversy over the security of EVMs dates back to the early 2000s, and is not confined to India. A consensus has emerged that voters can’t verify whether their votes have been recorded and counted correctly, and that miscounts due to EVM malfunction or fraud are undetectable and unchallengeable. Hence, an additional verifiable physical record of every vote cast in the form of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is required. In 2013, the Supreme Court mandated the use of EVMs with VVPAT units, and ECI has been deploying these in assembly elections from 2017 onwards.

Full Article: For democracy’s sake, EVMs must have proper VVPAT-based audit | analysis | Hindustan Times.

India: Cyber expert claims India’s 2014 general election was ‘rigged’ | Times of India

An Indian cyber expert, seeking political asylum in the US, on Monday claimed that the 2014 general election was “rigged” through the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), which, he says, can be hacked. Addressing a press conference in London via Skype, the man, identified as Syed Suja, said he fled India in 2014 because he felt threatened in the country after the killing of some of his team members. He claimed the telecom giant Reliance Jio helped the BJP to get low frequency signals to hack the EVMs. Shuja said the BJP would have won Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh elections if his team hadn’t intercepted the BJP attempts to hack the transmissions in these states.

Full Article: Cyber expert claims India's 2014 general election was 'rigged' | India News - Times of India.

India: Electronic Voting Machine and its history with India: Controversy over EVMs malfunctioning, rigging allegations are not new | Firstpost

Controversy is brewing over an Indian cyber expert’s claim that EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) were hacked in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections which the BJP had won by a landslide margin. Reacting strongly to the allegations, the Election Commission rejected the claims and insisted that the EVMs were foolproof and that it was ‘wary of becoming a party to this motivated slugfest’. Addressing a press conference in London via Skype, the individual, identified as Syed Shuja, said he fled India in 2014 because he felt threatened in the country after the killing of some of his team members. Although he appeared on screen through Skype, his face was masked. Shuja claimed that he is seeking political asylum in the US. Shuja, however, provided no proof to back up his claim. Shuja also alleged that other than the BJP, the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, AAP and Congress too were involved in the rigging of the EVMs. EVMs can record a maximum of 3,840 votes and can cater to a maximum of 64 candidates. There are 543 Lok Sabha constituencies and an equivalent number of seats in the Lower House of Parliament. To win a simple majority more than 272 seats are therefore needed. BJP won 51.9 percent of all seats in 2014 elections. In the 2014 election, 66.4 percent out of the total electorate of 834,101,479 voted.

Full Article: Electronic Voting Machine and its history with India: Controversy over EVMs malfunctioning, rigging allegations are not new.

India: Electronic Voting Machines hacked in 2014, claims US-based Indian ‘cyber expert’; EC rejects allegations | Hindustan Times

A man claiming to be a cyber expert and a former employee of the Electronic Corporation of India Ltd on Monday made a series of unsubstantiated allegations about the vulnerability of electronic voting machines used in India, including in the 2014 general election. The man, named as Syed Shuja of Hyderabad origin, appeared at a news conference through Skype. He said he was based in the United States, where he got political asylum after fleeing India due to threats to his life and allegedly in a serious medical condition in 2014. According to Shuja, who said he also went by other names, 200 seats in the 2014 elections that would have been won by the Congress had been rigged in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party by manipulating data transmission through what he called ‘military-grade modulators’ installed in various parts of the country.

Full Article: EVMs hacked in 2014, claims US-based Indian ‘cyber expert’; EC rejects allegations | world news | Hindustan Times.

India: An online battle for 900 million hearts and minds: India braces for election | Reuters

When India votes in a general election next year, it will be the world’s largest democratic exercise, and the biggest ever test of the role of social media in an election. As the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) readies for battle with the newly energized Congress party-led opposition in the election that must be held by May, the role of Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp could be crucial in deciding who wins. India already has close to 900 million eligible voters, and an estimated half-a-billion have access to the Internet. The country has 300 million Facebook (FB.O) users and 200 million on Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service – more than any other democracy. Millions use Twitter. “Social media and data analytics will be the main actors in the upcoming India elections. Their use would be unprecedented as both parties now use social media,” said Usha M. Rodrigues, a communications professor at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, whose research has focused on social media and Indian politics.

Full Article: An online battle for 900 million hearts and minds: India braces for election | Reuters.

India: Elections in the world’s largest democracy have serious technology issues | Quartz

Technology seems to be tripping up the electoral process in the world’s largest democracy with disturbing frequency. Of late, two key issues have threatened the right to franchise of many of India’s 800 million voters. One is a software that seems to be marking genuine voters’ names for deletion from the electoral rolls. The other is electronic voting machines (EVMs), which some believe are vulnerable to tampering. While complaints relating to these issues have done the rounds for years, the latest bout, involving a large number of such grievances, was sparked during the recent elections to five Indian state legislative assemblies. The most egregious complaints occurred in the south-central state of Telangana. On polling day (Dec.07) in the state, many voters were shocked to find their names missing from the electoral rolls. This followed the election commission of India’s (ECI) admission weeks before that up to 2.2 million names had been deleted by its software for being supposed duplicates.Some people, including international badminton ace Jwala Gutta, tweeted #whereismyvote in frustration.

Full Article: EVMs and Aadhaar-linking software threaten elections in India — Quartz India.

India: Online voting not feasible: Former election commissioner S Y Qureshi | Times of India

Former chief election commissioner S Y Qureshi on Sunday ruled out the possibility of online voting in India in near future. Online voting is not feasible here because of reasons related to security and integrity. “People can be put at gunpoint to vote for anyone or can be bribed,” Qureshi said, while speaking at a programme, “Mission 2019 — No Voter Left Behind”. The programme was organised by the Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy. The former CEC asked all voters to check their names on the voters’ list. He said a voter card doesn’t ensure one’s voting right. “Because names can be deleted for wrong reasons or due to computer errors.” He said that while he was the CEC, he had faced an uncomfortable situation becasue Arvind Kejriwal’s name was not on the voters’ list. However, it was found out that his name was listed in a different constituency where he used to stay earlier and finally he was able to cast his vote.

Full Article: Online voting not feasible: Ex-CEC S Y Qureshi | Kolkata News - Times of India.

India: US scientists ‘hack’ electronic voting machines ahead of polls in 5 states: Report | Business Today

The Election Commission of India announced the dates for Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana last week. Along with the dates, the poll regulating authority in India announced that VVPAT-enabled electronic voting machines will be used during these polls. Additionally, the country is looking at an eventful General Elections in 2019. Now, with barely a month left before states go to elections, scientists at the University of Michigan claim to have found a way to ‘hack’ Indian EVMs. A video posted online showed the scientists at the US university supposedly manipulating voting results on an electronic voting machine (EVM) via mobile text messages after attaching a home-made device to the machine, a BBC News report said.

Full Article: US scientists 'hack' Indian electronic voting machines ahead of polls in 5 states: Report.

India: Fearing breach, Election Commission moves to secure cyber walls for 2019 | The Indian Express

Amid allegations and fear of cyber-meddling in polls abroad, the Election Commission (EC) has initiated an unprecedented drive to protect its voter registration database and office networks from unauthorised influence and access during the Lok Sabha polls next year. A chief information security officer in Delhi and a cyber security nodal officer in each state; regulations on cyber security exclusively for the Commission; third-party security audit of all poll-related applications and websites; workshops to train officers in cyber hygiene; and a proposal to recognise elections as ‘critical information’ under the IT Act, 2000. These are the key steps taken by the EC over the last nine months to secure elections from cyber threats, The Indian Express has learnt.

Full Article: Fearing breach, Election Commission moves to secure cyber walls for 2019 | The Indian Express.

India: Old electronic voting machines destroyed, buyers have to seek election commission nod | Hindustan Times

The election commission (EC) does not provide or sell electronic voting machines (EVMs) that are no longer in use to any local body, state or university to conduct elections nor can buyers procure machines from the manufacturers without the consent of the poll panel. Officials aware of the issue said on Friday that all obsolete machines –that are older than 15 years—are sent back to the manufacturers where these are destroyed as per protocol in the presence of EC officials. “A decision was taken in 2010 that all machines that are discontinued will not be lent out to anyone; because when the machines were given earlier, the users did not stick to the necessary protocol for use. When glitches occurred thereafter, there was confusion and the EC ended up getting blamed, so a decision was taken that all EVMs that are discontinued after 15 years of use will be destroyed,” an official requesting anonymity said. The EC’s clarification comes in the wake of allegations that the machines used during the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections, the results of which were announced on Thursday, were faulty.

Full Article: Old electronic voting machines destroyed, buyers have to seek EC nod | india news | Hindustan Times.

India: Supreme Court seeks Election Commission response on ‘private parties handling’ electronic voting machines | The Economic Times

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the Election Commission’s response on an allegation that electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in the last Assembly polls in Uttarakhand were handled by private parties, leaving them open to possible tampering. The petition, filed by a resident of Uttarakhand, argued that EVMs and VVPATs (voter verified paper audit trails) were handled by private parties in breach of the commission’s rules and in disregard of the recommendations of a committee which said physical contact was the only way these machines could be tampered with. The case, before a bench led by Justice AK Sikri, was argued by senior advocate Kapil Sibal. Citing RTI (right to information) replies, the petition claimed that the poll panel had conceded to have requisitioned the help of private security, transportation and other personnel during the elections.

Full Article: EVM voting machine: SC seeks EC response on ‘private parties handling’ voting machines.

India: Political parties divided over reverting back to ballot paper | The Economic Times

Political parties were divided on reverting back to ballot paper in place of EVMs in elections and holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and Assemblies at an all-party meeting convened by the Election Commission that also discussed state funding. The meeting of all the recognised national and state parties was convened to discuss the fidelity of electoral rolls, election expenditure regulation and inclusion of print media in the election campaign silence period. Chief Election Commissioner A.K Rawat said the Commission would take a call on all the issues raised by parties including on EVMs and ballot paper, integrity of electoral rolls and ceiling on expenditure by political parties. “There will be a satisfactory solution to the issues,” he told reporters after the meeting.

Full Article: Political parties divided over reverting back to ballot paper - The Economic Times.

India: Opposition parties, Shiv Sena pitch for election through ballot papers | Business Standard

Several opposition parties and ruling NDA constituent Shiv Sena on Monday pushed for reverting back to ballot paper in place of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and opposed simultaneous elections at a meeting convened by the Election Commission which also saw some parties pitching for state funding of elections. The Shiv Sena differed with its ally BJP to support the polls through ballot paper and the CPI-M too differed from other opposition parties and said it was not for returning to the old system of holding elections. It sought more safeguards in EVMs. Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat said after the meeting that the poll panel will take a call on all the issues raised by parties including on EVMs and ballot paper, integrity of electoral rolls and ceiling on expenditure by political parties.

Full Article: Opposition parties, Shiv Sena pitch for election through ballot papers | Business Standard News.

India: After US, Indian elections may be the next target of Russia: Oxford Professor | Economic Times

After allegedly ‘meddling’ with the 2016 US Presidential Election, Russian hackers may soon make their way to the upcoming general elections in India, an Oxford University internet studies professor says. Philip N. Howard, a professor of Internet studies at the Oxford Internet institute, made the statement during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on foreign Influence on Social media platforms. Howard believes that media in countries like India and Brazil will be targeted to interfere in the election process. “I would say that the greater concern would be amongst the media institutions in our democratic allies. I believe that the Russians have moved from targeting us, in particular, to Brazil and India; other enormous democracies that will be running elections in the next few years,” Howard said. “The United States actually has the most professionalised media in the world. It’s learned certainly to evaluate their sources and no longer report tweets as is given,” Howard said.

Full Article: Indian Election: After US, Indian elections may be the next target of Russia: Oxford Professor.

India: Are Electronic Voting Machines democratic? | The Statesman

Those infatuated with the technology-driven Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) fail to realise that elections are synonymous with democracy and are meant to translate the consent of the citizens into governmental authority. To achieve this, elections should be held in strict conformity with democracy principles. … EVMs that are being presently used to conduct elections may be devices of technology excellence. But the moot question is ~ do they comply with the principles of democracy? The answer is: No. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in a landmark judgment in March 2009 held the use of EVMs unconstitutional if they do not comply with the ‘Democracy Principles’. The Court did not strike down the EVM ,but left it to the government/election authority to determine whether or not the machines comply with the principles of democracy. These authorities determined that EVMs do not and went back to the ballot paper. Many other countries followed.

Full Article: Are EVMs democratic?.

India: Push-button vote | The Times of India

The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are said to have been first used in 1982 for the North Paravur Assembly by-election in Kerala, and for a limited number of polling stations. This equipment was approved for wider use by the Election Commission of India in technical collaboration with Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India in 1989. But EVMs made their universal debut in the 1999 parliamentary elections after extensive consultations with stakeholders and have since become an integral, even indispensable, part of India’s electoral system. Political parties across the spectrum have questioned the credibility and efficacy of EVMs. The general outcry reached its crescendo lately with a section of the political class demanding their replacement with the earlier system of paper ballots. While there are a large number of countries, including most of the developed ones which still use paper ballots for voting, India was one of the few countries which introduced EVMs to get over the multiple problems associated with the previous system of voting.

Full Article: Push-button vote.

India: Controversy as Indian electronic voting machines malfunction | Asia Times

Malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) have again marred elections in India and raised question about the reliability of the devices. Election Commission (EC) officials blamed heat waves for affecting the machines. On Monday numerous media reports emerged about EVMs not working, with opposition parties claiming tampering as four Lok Sabha, or Lower House of the Indian Parliament, seats and nine assembly constituencies held by-elections. However, the EC has called the large number of EVM failures exaggerated and said defective machines did not diminish the credibility of elections, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. According to media reports, the EC was also ridiculed after its officials said the EVM machines malfunctioned due to heat waves in the northern region of Uttar Pradesh.

Full Article: Controversy as Indian electronic voting machines malfunction | Asia Times.

India: Massive EVM Failure Affects Voting in Kairana, Leaders Demand Repolls | NewsClick

As Kairana Lok Sabha Constituency went to bypolls on Monday, the malfunctioning of the EVMs and VVPAT emerged to be the biggest story from the polling ground. The extent of EVMs malfunctioning grew severe as the day progressed. More than 200 EVMs and VVPATs from the polling booths of all the five assembly segments of the Lok Sabha were reportedly malfunctioning, which led to the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) to raise allegations of “scientific rigging” in the byelection. Interestingly, even the BJP leadership raised the issue of EVM malfunctioning and urged the EC to conduct repolls at some booths. The RLD’s candidate in Kairana Tabassum Hasan, who got the support of Opposition parties, wrote to the chief election commissioner complaining about malfunctioning EVM and VVPATs in her constituency. She alleged that despite raising the issue at the state and national level, the local administration was not dealing with the issue. The voters were being deprived of their right and hence the Election Commission must urgently send engineers and technicians to repair the machines, she wrote. 

Full Article: Massive EVM Failure Affects Voting in Kairana, Leaders Demand Repolls | NewsClick.

India: Facebook is offering a ‘cyber threat crisis’ hotline to Indian politicians | Business Insider

Facebook, on Friday, introduced a “cyber threat crisis” email hotline for politicians and political parties in India. A top company official told TOI that the company is also working on an “election integrity” microsite for the country. With the new hotline, the compromised account and even the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), can write to “indiacyberthreats@fb.com”. A cybersecurity guide with basic security do’s and don’ts has also been released by the company. Facebook announced the efforts a day after submitting its responses to the Indian government over the Cambridge Analytica debacle.

Full Article: Facebook is offering a ‘cyber threat crisis’ hotline to Indian politicians | Business Insider India.

India: Malfunctioning electronic voting machines leave voters frustrated | Deccan Herald

Voting turned out to be agonising and frustrating for many across the city during Saturday’s polling as the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) malfunctioned in several booths. While voting was disrupted in some places, the process was deferred to Monday in Lottegollahalli under Hebbal constituency. This means voters have to revisit the booth on a working day. In fact, not a single vote was cast in Lottegollahalli till 4 pm on Saturday. Voters had to wait in the hot sun until the fault was rectified. But voters in ward 2 complained that the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine –which prints the voter’s choice for confirmation— reflected names other than the ones they chose. Following complaints from the voters, election officials in the booth suspended polling as they could not resolve the issue.

Full Article: Malfunctioning EVMs leave voters frustrated | Deccan Herald.