EVM saga: A Tribute to crusaders for transparency in elections — A. Surya Prakash


Hope EC will not goof up on their promise. ECI watch should continue because the story of 2009 Lok Sabha polls rigging results of about 90 constituencies tampering with EVM is as yet uninvestigated, unresolved:http://government.wikia.com/wiki/Review_the_2009_Lok_Sabha_Election_Process:_Promises_and_Reality This is a remarkable account of expose by MD Nalapat and Anupam Saraph.Kalyan

05 MAR 2013
Wisdom dawns at last on the poll panel

A Surya Prakash

It is satisfying to note that the Election Commission of India has finally agreed to the demand that electronic voting machines must issue paper receipts to voters. This is needed, because EVMs are not tamper-proof

After standing on false prestige and even becoming vindictive against those who suspected the integrity of electronic voting machines, the Election Commission of India has finally acceded to the demand that the machines must issue a paper receipt to voters.

The commission’s decision — made known to the Supreme Court in February in response to a petition filed by Mr Subramanian Swamy, president of the Janata Party, that EVMs be scrapped — is a major victory for all those who were campaigning against electronic voting machines because the latter lacked transparency.

Mr Swamy had argued that EVMs must be scrapped because they are not tamper-proof. They could be retained only if there was transparency via a paper trail, so that every voter knew that his vote had been registered correctly. Even Japan, which started the process of electronic voting, has reverted to paper ballots. Many other countries have also fallen back on paper ballots for the same reason.

The commission, which had stubbornly resisted the demand for either scrapping EVMs or introducing a paper trail, began to display some reasonableness in the matter after Mr Swamy moved the Supreme Court and a Bench comprising Justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi declared that it would hear the matter on a priority basis, so that the proceedings concluded before the next parliamentary election.

The commission signalled its readiness to consider the plea when it told the court last September that it was contemplating “foolproof methods” to ensure that EVMs were not misused or tampered and that it was consulting technical experts and political parties in this regard.

Finally, some weeks ago, the commission informed the court that it was willing to incorporate the paper trail in order to remove doubts about the integrity of EVMs. The commission told the court that it had done a trial of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail in EVMs in 180 polling stations in various States. This system could be incorporated after it received the opinion of an expert committee that is examining the issue. The commission proposes to use the paper trail first in some by-election and later incorporate the same in the general election. It has already asked EVM manufacturers to fine-tune the paper trail system.

The debate on the integrity of the EVMs was started three years ago when a group of public spirited NRIs headed by Satya Dosapati of New Jersey organised workshops in Delhi and Chennai under the aegis of ‘Save Indian Democracy’ and invited national and international experts to speak about the vulnerability of these machines to hacking and fraud. Among them was Till Jaeger, a lawyer who got the Federal Constitutional Court in Germany to ban the use of these machines in that country; Rop Gonggrijp, a computer hacker from the Netherlands who demonstrated on live television how the machine could be hacked, and Alex Halderman, professor of Computer Science, University of Michigan, USA, who is an authority on electronic voting security. The most prominent Indian expert at these workshops was Hari Prasad of Hyderabad, who spoke about the ease with which EVMs could be tampered with and on how, irrespective of voters’ preferences, the machine could be pre-programmed to produce a result.

The argument against EVMs is that the machines can be tampered with at the manufacturing stage or at places where they are stored in State capitals. The biggest drawback of these machines is that, since the vote count happens inside the machine, there is no way by which the result can be cross-checked. Given the extent of corruption and fraud in various facets of governance in India, it would be foolish to discount the possibility of EVMs being manipulated by political parties in power or by pliant election authorities.

Mr Hari Prasad demonstrated the vulnerability of these machines to the Election Commission some months prior to these workshops. However, such was the commission’s fear of the truth that it abruptly stopped Mr Prasad and his colleagues midway through their demonstration. Later, the commission became very vindictive and even launched criminal prosecution against Mr Prasad and had him arrested in August, 2010, for demonstrating the EVMs’ vulnerability to fraud on what the police alleged was a stolen machine! In fact, the alleged theft of the machine itself constituted an indictment of the commission. It showed how EVMs could be taken out of the commission’s custody and, thereafter, even tampered with. The commission learnt of the so-called theft only after Mr Prasad demonstrated on television how the machine could be hacked.

Thus, the Election Commission resorted to punitive action against a whistleblower, whose only intention was to protect the sanctity of the electoral process in the world’s largest democracy.

As a public body which has the responsibility of superintendence, direction and control of elections, the commission must function in a people-friendly and transparent manner. It must first convince us that those who man it are democrats who are willing to see and listen. It must also convince us that it has no political axe to grind, although all the commissioners are appointed by the Government of the day through an obviously partisan process.

As former Chief Justice of India MN Venkatachalaiah often says, democracy is not just about statistics — “there are over 700 million voters in India”. The members of the commission must demonstrate their deep and abiding commitment to democratic ideals, and their non-partisanship should be beyond doubt.

Given the fact that the commission was headed at one time by Navin Chawla — a man indicted by the Shah Commission for conduct “unbecoming of a public servant” during the Emergency — the attitude of the Election Commission against Mr Prasad was no surprise. When persons like Mr Chawla, whose commitment to democracy is suspect, are appointed Election Commissioners, it is no surprise to see the commission running away from the truth on an important question which concerned the integrity of the electoral process and, as a consequence, of the Election Commission itself.

In any case, now that Mr Chawla has retired, the commission must redeem itself in the public eye. Since it has, in principle, accepted the argument that a paper trail is a must if EVMs are to be used, it must gracefully withdraw the criminal proceedings against Mr Prasad.

It must also speed up the technical clearances needed to give voters a paper receipt when they vote in the next Lok Sabha election. 2014 is a high stakes parliamentary election and the Election Commission is duty-bound to ensure the sanctity of the results of that poll. The commission must act with efficiency and grace.



About janamejayan

A Viraat Hindu dedicated to spread the message of Paramacharya of Kanchi
This entry was posted in Anti-national Congress Party, Dr.Subramanian Swamy, Sonia and Mafia, The Election results – let’s begin the analysis. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to EVM saga: A Tribute to crusaders for transparency in elections — A. Surya Prakash

  1. Pratik says:

    Long overdue….

  2. Sir, Salutations to an untiring Dr Swamy for slowly bringing back true democracy back to India along with the pioneers of EVM exposure.Let us scrap the machines till they are perfected and proved totally reliable.Let these election results become a landmark in the history of India ,by once again freeing Her from foreign yoke.Regards,Ganesh.


    Sir,I felt really happy that at least one Indian is fighting for correcting EVM Scams.I am a BE(Civil) engineer of age 50years,contested in one corporation elections.I am working since from 30years in the same area where I had contested.The wining candidate( Ruling national party) got 4490 out of 6948.We the remaing 5contestants got very less votes(Three digits).I got 133 only.I went in deapth & good that an untiring Dr Swamy for slowly bringing back true democracy back to India along with the pioneers of EVM exposure.Hope India gets corrected EVM machines in 2014parliamentary election.Warm regards,Nagaraj T S

  4. Hemen Parekh says:

    What exactly / precisely , will you do ?

    Expected has come to pass
    Narendrabhai Modi has been declared as the PM candidate of BJP
    On TV channels , experts are offering advice to BJP / NaMo , on how they should conduct themselves PRIOR to 2014 national elections
    For the voters , what matters is :
    “ If BJP were to be voted to power , how will it conduct itself , AFTER the elections ? After NaMo becomes PM ? “
    All that we have been hearing from NaMo and other BJP leaders , over the last one year is :

     Congress is corrupt

     UPA 2 is incompetent

     All of their policies are wrong , leading to price-rise , inflation , economic downturn etc

     They failed to do THIS and THAT

    But not a word so far of what exactly / precisely , BJP / NaMo would themselves do , if voted to power !
    I certainly don’t mean distribution of free laptops , tablets , mobiles , cycles ! Forget the manifesto !
    As a citizen , I would like them to declare NOW , their unambiguous stand on :

     Disallowing “ convicted “ persons from contesting elections

     Bringing political parties within the ambit of RTI

     Appointment of a Lok Ayukt in Gujarat and passing of Jan Lok Pal Bill within 100 days of coming to power

     Make CBI independent of Government

     Passing Women’s Equal Representation Bill, pending for 40 years

     Electoral Reforms incorporating , “ Negative Voting / Right to Recall “

     Passing of Delivery of Services Act

     Bringing out Black Money ( both , foreign and local ) for investment in Infrastructure / Health Services / Education / Housing for the poor etc , thru suitable “ No Questions Asked “ Amnesty Schemes

     Above all ,creating 15 million jobs every year

    These are , just a few of the people’s expectations
    Are BJP / NaMo willing to treat these as voters’ “ Charter of Demands “ ?
    We have had enough of rhetoric oratory
    People are asking :

    “ Forget what UPA failed to do . We know that
    What will YOU do , and WHEN ?

    I hope NaMo / Rajnath Singh realize that , in order to win the forthcoming State elections and , thereby pave the road to win the 2014 National election , they need to come up with honest / transparent and IMMEDIATE answers

    • hemen parekh [ 14 Sept 2013 ]

  5. Hemen Parekh says:

    BJP Poll Manifesto

    Mr Murli Manohar Joshi is in charge of drawing up BJP’s Poll Manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha Elections

    He has invited suggestions from public for possible incorporation in the manifesto , if found suitable

    Based on my perception of what would benefit the public most ( in order of importance ) , following is how BJP’s manifesto should read :

     Corruption

    We will introduce / pass , “ Anna-Version “ of Jan Lok-Pal Bill within 2 months of assuming power at the Center

     Jobs

    We will create 15 million jobs per year , starting from 2015

     Economy

    We will liberalize FDI in Insurance / Retail and all other non-defense related sectors of economy

     Productive Use of Un-Productive Money

    We will create a structure, whereby Private sector and Religious Trusts ( such as Tirupati / Lord Padmanabhan / Shirdi SaiBaba / Satya SaiBaba / Siddhi Vinayak / VaishnoDevi etc ) , will come forward to invest , at least Rs 10 lakh crores per year for the next 5 years. This will be done thru,

    • No-Tax ( for 10 years ) , “ Job Creation “ Bonds , exclusively devoted to creation of Jobs for poor people in less-developed states

    • Enabling investments into these bonds , thru a Voluntary Disclosure Scheme ( VDS ) where no questions will be asked as to the source of the funds. This will bring back Rs 35 lakh crores stashed away unproductively / secretly by Indian nationals and Trusts

    • We will create similar “ Job Creation “ Bonds where subscription will be restricted to,

    # NRIs / PIOs
    # Foreign NGOS / Charitable Trusts
    # Foreign Sovereign Funds

    • We will introduce this measure within 6 months of coming to power

     CBI

    We will make CBI truly independent of the Central Government , by making Chief of CBI report to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
    CBI will have its own Expense Budget ( as part of the Central Budget ) and will be free to hire additional professionals without needing permission from any Central Ministry

     Electoral Reforms

    We will introduce , within 6 months , a Electoral Reforms Bill in Lok Sabha. This will have provisions for
    • NOTA

    • Right to Recall

    • Negative Vote …………..etc

     Representation of People Act

    We will amend this Act within 6 months of assuming power , by incorporating provisions for

    • Acceptance of ALL donations to political parties only thru cheques

    • Issue of paper receipts for all donations

    • Publishing on party web site ,

    # full details of funding / expenditure etc

    # full details of Assets / Liabilities / Income Tax Returns filed etc of Senior party functionaries ( including those holding Ministerial positions ) – updated annually

    # full details of FIRs / Court-Cases ( whether criminal or civil ) filed against any Senior Party Functionaries , with punishments awarded , if any

    # number of Lok Sabha / Rajya Sabha meetings attended by its elected representatives

     Naxal / Maoist Menace

    We will eliminate this menace thru full integration of these Tribal areas into the mainstream of the Social / Political and Economic development.
    We will do this by granting special status to these areas , where industries / businesses / NGOs , will be encouraged to set up Skills Training Institutes , by giving accelerated depreciation benefit for the Capital Expenditure incurred and 150 % write-off on the recurring annual revenue expenditure

     Relations with Pakistan

    Whereas we will encourage constructive dialogue with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues , this will be done only after Pakistan dismantles all terror-training camps on its territory , as certified by a UN Agency , on an ongoing basis

    Dear Mr Joshi :

    I am not sure how many citizens will take the trouble to spell out their suggestions like this
    My last suggestion is that you frame a “ Multiple Choice Questionnaire “
    Publish this on as many Media as possible – especially Online Web sites
    Then ask people to record their choices
    A Smart Phone based Mobile App would be great !

    • hemen parekh ( 19 Oct 2013 )

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