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.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of India.
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.
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 “firstname.lastname@example.org”. 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.
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.
With the Karnataka Assembly elections round the corner, the cyber experts have said that it is quite possible to influence elections in India. Talking to ANI, cyber expert Sunil Abraham did not rule out the possibility of influencing the voters as India does not have data protection law in place. He said under the provisions provided by 43 (A) of Indian IT Act, two types of data collection are completely legal: first, the data shared by the user in the public domain and secondly, the data published by the social platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, which was shared by the user for his/her friends. “Both these types of data are not considered sensitive personal data. Under Indian law, if they are collecting your biometrics, passwords and health information only then they need your consent,” Abraham told in an exclusive interview.
Inside the sprawling Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe, life goes on as usual, almost untouched by the poll fever that has the rest of Karnataka in its grips. The last State Assembly elections in Karnataka were held in 2013, a year before the Election Commission (EC) made way for children of Tibetan refugees to be included in the electoral rolls. A large number of Tibetans in exile in the three settlements at Bylakuppe and Hunsur in Karnataka would have had their first shot at exercising their right to vote in the 2018 State Assembly elections. But the Periyapatna taluk administration, under which fall the two (old and new) Tibetan settlements in Bylakuppe, and the Gurupura settlement in Hunsur, said they had “not been approached by anyone from the community to be enrolled as voters”.
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) can indeed be rigged. Contrary to the Election Commission of India’s stonewalling and denials, new research and experiments by American computer scientists have established that electronic voting systems can be manipulated in a variety of ways. Some of the new evidence has been published in a New York Times article ‘The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine’, which provides startling details backed by technical findings and expert interviews. The intense research being conducted in America is due to domestic controversies about whether the 2016 presidential election was free and fair. However, the insights into EVM vulnerability are both relevant and timely for India.
India: Opposition’s back-to-paper-ballot campaign against electronic voting machines gathers steam | National Herald
Even as Opposition parties explore the feasibility of a united front, a parallel exercise is on to join hands on an issue which they consider to be far more critical to the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In focus are the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Many Opposition parties and voters have serious doubts about the reliability of EVMs. Efforts are on to renew the demand for a return to the old paper ballot system of voting for the next election. A day after the Gorakhpur and Phulpur byelection results were announced, victorious Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav told newsmen: “We won. But the old ballot paper system was much better. It enabled people to vote with much more passion and to express their anger through the ballot box”.
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.
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.”