The United States, the world’s most developed nation, is having serious problems with its electronic voting system that India cannot afford to ignore. The last few days have been so traumatic in the state of Iowa that it has triggered demands for a total manual recount and for a return to the “good old paper ballot”. Just three headlines in influential newspapers convey the message. One says: “Don’t entrust Democracy to the Techies”. The other says: “The Iowa election fiasco proved one thing: over-reliance on electronic machines in the election process makes Democracy more opaque”. The third was a plaintive cry: “Please let’s go back to paper voting”. What happened during counting of votes in Iowa on Monday can be summed up in three words – Spectacular Software Glitch. Just like what the Election Commission of India keeps repeating, those in charge of the primary election in the State of Iowa had claimed that the electronic voting system was “fail-safe” and “tamper-proof”. But some of America’s leading politicians – like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, all of whom are feverishly trying to win the nomination to become the Democratic Party candidate against Donald Trump in the US presidential election in November – were stunned when the results of Monday’s election caucus were withheld because a computer application crashed.Full Article: What India can learn from the clamour for paper ballots in the US .
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of India.
India: Electronic Voting Machines Not ‘Information’ Under Right to Information Act: Delhi High Court | Karan Tripathi/Live Law
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday quashed the order of theCentral Information Commission which had held that Electronic Voting Machines are within the definition of ‘information’ under section 2(f) of the RTI Act. The HC Single Bench of Justice Jayant Nath noted that the Central Information Commission erroneously passed an order in favour of the person who had asked for the production of the EVM machine itself, in his RTI application. The Court held that production of EVM models cannot be sought on RTI application. On April 20 2018, a person named Razak Haider had filed an application before the Election Commission, asking for the production of the EVM machine itself. According to him, as per Section 2(f) and 2(i) of the RTI Act, the definition of ‘information’ and ‘record’ included model or any sample. Hence, an EVM qualifies as ‘information’ and should be provided to him under Section 6(1) of the RTI Act, the RTI applicant contended. The said application was rejected by both the CPIO as well as the appellate authority by orders dated 02/05/18 and 18/06/18 respectively.Full Article: Electronic Voting Machines Not 'Information' Under RTI Act: Delhi HC.
India: ECIL Directs Disclosure of Information About Electronic Voting Machines and VVPAT Deployment in 2019 Elections | Venkatesh Nayak/The Wire
In September 2019, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative reported that the Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) did a volte face under the Right to Information (RTI) Act about supplying information relating to Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Trail Units (VVPATs) deployed during the 2019 general elections. After demanding copying charges to provide the information I requested, the central public information officer (CPIO) returned the money, claiming that BEL did not hold some of the information and that disclosing names of engineers deputed to provide technical support for these machines at the constituency-level would endanger their lives. The CPIO also denied access to operational manuals relating to these machines. The CPIO of the Electronics Corporation Ltd (ECIL), which also supplied EVMs and VVPATs for use during the same elections, had also denied information sought in an identical RTI application. Now, in a welcome turnaround, the ECIL’s first appellate authority (FAA) has upheld my first appeal and directed its CPIO to provide access to all information which had been denied earlier. Meanwhile, the BEL’s FAA directed the CPIO to transfer the queries relating to the number of EVMs and VVPATs deployed during the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections to the Election Commission of India (ECI) but upheld his decision to reject information about engineers and operational manuals used.Full Article: ECIL Directs Disclosure of Information About EVM and VVPAT Deployment in 2019 Elections.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) recently released a document outlining cybersecurity guidelines for the upcoming Assembly elections. All Indian states have received detailed cybersecurity guidelines, which include a special audit of all ICT applications hosted by the chief electoral officer, cyber hygiene for the electoral staff, and detailed application/infrastructure level guidelines. According to the document, ECI has taken several steps to ensure cyber safety for the Lok Sabha (House of the People) Elections. ECI has created clear regulations for cybersecurity and educated its entire electoral staff through several workshops. One of its major initiatives was to revamp old applications, reduce the number of applications, and consolidate them into a few manageable ones. Furthermore, all applications have been built with cybersecurity measures in design by default. The core principles are to reduce the attack surface area, deploy defence-in-depth, and to fix security issues correctly.Full Article: Indian Election Commission releases new cybersecurity guidelines | OpenGov Asia.
Even as some top politicians are raising doubts and have made references to the alleged manipulation of EVMs (electronic voting machines), millions of voters in the country are getting confused. Common people don’t understand the mechanism of a complicated machine like the EVM. Rather, they depend on the institutions and/or their leaders to frame their opinions. However, there was a VVPAT-auditing of the EVMs — five per Assembly constituency of the country — as directed by the Supreme Court. One obvious, yet important, question is how the opinion on EVMs will be reframed with the VVPAT-auditing data. A voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slip is nothing but a machine-generated ballot paper, verified by the voter himself/herself. And if the VVPAT counts are further tallied with the corresponding EVM counts, that would give a double-check. The objective of tallying VVPAT counts with the corresponding EVM counts is to check whether the EVMs are tampered with or not. If there is no mismatch for a machine, one can safely conclude that there is no tampering in that EVM, at least.Full Article: VVPAT-auditing data and credibility of EVMs.
India: Electronic Voting Machines Controversy: Election Commission’s Use Of Contract Engineers Puts Indian Elections At Risk | Ravi Nair/HuffPost India
The Election Commission of India has deployed teams of private contract workers, with a minimum work experience of just one year, to Maharashtra and Haryana, where they are conducting “first-level checks” on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for state assembly elections scheduled for later this year, HuffPost India has learnt. These engineers told HuffPost India they had previously been tasked with critical aspects of the voting process — including setting EVMs and loading symbols into vote verification machines called VVPATS — in the 2019 general elections. Opposition leaders in these states told HuffPost India they were unaware that first-level checks on EVMs had begun, and that these checks were being performed by engineers who were not full-time employees of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), two state-owned companies that manufacture and maintain EVMs for the Election Commission. The Election Commission has never admitted to the use of contract workers, and the commission’s own guidelines require that representatives from all political parties be present when first level checks on EVMs are conducted. This HuffPost India report suggests that the nature of electronic voting makes it impossible for the Election Commission of India to maintain full control over all aspects of the voting process, despite its protestations to the contrary. The Commission’s submissions in Supreme Court indicate, at best, a fundamental ignorance about the nature of cybersecurity threats.Full Article: EVM Controversy: Election Commission’s Use Of Contract Engineers Puts Indian Elections At Risk | HuffPost India.
India: Why Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails aren’t enough to build confidence in electronic voting machines | Atanu Biswas/Hindustan Times
Two months after the declaration of Lok Sabha election results, conspiracy theories about possible tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are still doing the rounds. That important opposition leaders have demanded a return to paper ballots and even openly supported EVM-rigging theories has lend credence to the latter – although some of their behavior can be attributed to just being bad losers. Still, doubts about EVMs have been planted, despite the fact that none of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines showed a mismatch with the EVM count. The Supreme Court ordered the Election Commission of India (ECI) that five VVPATs per assembly constituency (AC) should be matched with the EVM count of votes. Statistically speaking this is adequate to remove doubts about possible tampering of EVMs. In an earlier article in HT dated April 27, 2018, this author had argued that tallying just
11, 29, 58 and 534 VVPATs per parliamentary constituency (PC) would allow us to find a rigged EVM with 95% probability for scenarios where 25%, 10%, 5% and 0.5% of the EVMs were tampered in a given PC. Are EVM rigging fears an example of conspiracy theories defeating statistical methods? Ironical as it may sound; an eighteenth century concept in statistics known as Bayes’ theorem can help us understand why matching a sample of VVPATs with EVMs is failing to generate confidence in the credibility of EVMs.
India: Electronic voting machine ‘tampering’: activists send legal notice to foreign microchips makers | Shoumojit Banerjee/The Hindu
Amid apprehensions about the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs), Pune-based civic activist Maruti Bhapkar has issued legal notice through noted lawyer and rights activist Asim Sarode to the Arizona-based Microchip Technology Inc. and Renesas Electronics headquartered in Tokyo on the alleged EVM manipulation in the recent general election. The activists contend that as the firms were engaged in making microchips for the EVMs used in the election, it makes them suspects in any alleged electoral fraud that may have been committed. In the interests of transparency and clarity, Mr. Bhapkar and Mr. Sarode say, they have demanded that the firms publicly disclose copies of their agreements or contracts made with the Election Commission of India (ECI). “Through activists working in this field, we have come to know of four major foreign companies – two U.S.-based, one Canadian and one Japanese – that make the microchips for the EVMs used in the Lok Sabha election. As of now, we have sent legal notice to two of these reputed firms,” Mr. Sarode told The Hindu.Full Article: EVM ‘tampering’: activists send legal notice to foreign microchips makers - The Hindu.
India: No concrete evidence of electronic voting machine tampering, but apprehensions are there over its functioning: Yechury | The New Indian Express
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury Tuesday said although there are no concrete evidence of tampering of electronic voting machines, several questions and apprehensions have cropped up over its functioning. All the major political parties may discuss the matter together and take up the issue with the Election commission (EC) with the demand for setting up of an expert committee to look into the matter, Yechury said. Several questions have been raised over the functioning of EVMs during the Lok Sabha polls, he said. “In Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka, the BJP swept the polls. But within a week when municipal polls were held on ballot papers, the Congress-JD(S) swept the polls. The same thing has happened elsewhere,” the CPI(M) leader said. On the demands by several parties to replace EVMs with ballot papers, Yechury said the major political parties might discuss the matter after the Parliament session is over and ask the EC to constitute an expert panel to look into the matter.Full Article: No concrete evidence of EVM tampering, but apprehensions are there over its functioning: Yechury- The New Indian Express.
After getting no relief from either the Election Commission or the Supreme Court on their petitions on the alleged misuse of “doubtful” electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the recent Lok Sabha elections, the opposition parties are gearing up to launch yet another big battle. While West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday explicitly blamed the EVMs for BJP’s stunning victory in Lok Sabha elections and called for use of ballot boxes, the Congress is planning to convene a meeting of the opposition parties to discuss the future course of action on EVMs after the budget session. “The Lok Sabha election in 2019 is a mystery, not history. We do not want EVMs. We want the ballot box to be brought back,” said Banerjee at her Kolkata rally on Sunday accusing BJP of winning the Lok Sabha polls by cheating- using EVMs, CRPF and Election Commission. Still trying to overcome the shock of a humiliating defeat, the Congress is hoping reciprocity from several opposition parties, including Trinamool Congress, to join the chorus of demanding the restoration of ballot papers in place of electronic voting in future elections. Echoing similar sentiments, Banerjee too has called for use of ballot papers in coming Panchayat and Municipal elections.Full Article: Opposition parties plan big revolt against EVMs.
India: Ahead of state elections, Congress looks to amp up push for paper ballots | Aurangzeb Naqshbandi/Hindustan Times
The Congress is likely to convene a meeting of opposition parties after the budget session of Parliament ends to discuss their future course of action on the issue of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that some say are susceptible to manipulation. After suffering a heavy defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in which it managed to win only 52 seats in the 543-member House, the party has decided to escalate its demand for the restoration of ballot papers to replace electronic voting in future elections. According to a Congress functionary, a group of party leaders recently met United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has stepped down as president over the electoral rout, and asked them to push the demand in a big way. The functionary, who requested anonymity, said the party had not only received feedback from the ground but is “convinced” that “EVMs were manipulated” in the national elections, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 303 seats. Past protests by opposition parties that EVMs were vulnerable to tampering have failed to convince the Election Commission (EC), which has rejected the allegations. The Supreme Court in April raised the physical counting of Electronic Voting Machines using a Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (EVM-VVPATs) in constituencies from one to five on a plea by opposition parties, but in May turned down a petition for an increase in random checks to at least 50% EVMs.Full Article: Ahead of state elections, Congress looks to amp up push for ballots | india news | Hindustan Times.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.