Accusations about the tampering of Electronic Voting Machines continue to be in news. India’s EVMs have been carefully designed to avoid some of the well-known security problems with electronic voting machines in the West. But it is difficult to agree with Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi’s assertion that all the Election Commission needs to do is double down and more forcefully insist that the EVMs are secure because that is what they believe. It is not about what insiders trust to be true about voting technology, but about what has been demonstrated to be true to the public about a particular election. Besides, no EVM, including the Indian ones, can be assumed to be invulnerable to a determined attacker. While India’s EVM design makes it harder to implement large-scale attacks, all EVMs do not have to be rigged. Machines judiciously chosen in constituencies that are more favorable to rigging, with the collusion of local individuals, after the random allocation described by Quraishi, could be sufficient. Additionally, in a country with a very efficient counterfeit mafia, we cannot expect that printed paper seals will always expose tampering efforts, because they can be replaced with counterfeit ones.
Finally, a computer chip can be smart enough to know when it is being tested. For example, Volkswagen recently pleaded guilty to having software whose purpose was to detect that the car was being tested, so it could behave as expected and emit fewer pollutants. On the other hand, during regular use, it produced greater emissions. So testing machines at random is not enough to know whether they can be trusted to perform as expected during the real election, when they are not being tested. It thus stands to reason that the losing parties would be suspicious of an election outcome that relies solely on the electronic mechanism, which is not transparent to the voter.
When an electorate has reasonable and genuine concerns that an election could have been rigged – whether or not it was – you have a situation that is not conducive to a healthy democracy. We now have losers with concerns that the election was rigged, winners who would rather not know whether it was, and voters without an independent mechanism for determining the truth.
Full Article: The great EVM debate: Convincing the losers that they lost.