Voters' googly

They were first successfully tested in the political laboratory of India (Kerala) in the by-election to Parur assembly constituency in 1982. Only 12 machines failed then, due to a technical snag. After 27 years, during which many evaluations and validations have been made, apprehensions are again being voiced about the sanctity of this wonder machine.

With Election Commission vouching for its credibility and politicians insisting on reverting to the traditional paper ballot, Deccan Herald Sunday Spotlight spoke to the most critical
stakeholders in an election - the voters - on the EVM controversy.

Raman Iyer, copy writer in Logix Microsystems says: “Anything to do with technology invariably has loopholes. And EVMs are no exception. In spite of stringent security measures against tampering, if discrepancies occur, I feel the consequences should be at the sole discretion of the Election Commission.” 

Madhu Bangarappa, Congressman, contends that EVMs are made by human beings and there is every possibility of them having problems. The only solution to the present EVM controversy is to detect the loopholes, if any, at the earliest and get them fixed.

Maruthi Infosystems owner Ravi Kamsetty, opines that manipulation of EVMs is not possible because software is fused permanently in ICs and it can’t be accessed or altered easily. Besides, one has to know the source code of the EVMs to rig poll results.

Santosh Patil, Finance consultant, corroborates with technical inputs. “All electronic machines are programmed and chip-driven. Just as computers, ATMs and mobile phones are hacked to gain access, EVMs too are prone to manipulation. EVMs pass through different stages of the election process like preparation, voting, storing and counting. Different people handle these operations which provide ample opportunity for tampering.”

Sreeram Kumar, nutritionist, feels that EVMs can be decoded and a parallel programme can be planted to rig the election.

Rukmini R, Executive in HINDALCO, casts a counter vote. “EVMs and voting mechanism are foolproof. EVMs have been developed by highly qualified technicians and there is no chance of tampering with it. Moreover, it is under round the clock vigil before and after elections. It has also been adopted by many foreign countries. That itself holds testimony to its credibility.

Advocate Parvathy Y said: “To rig the election through EVMs is out of question. The politicians who find fault with EVMs are those who bit the dust in the General Election.”

Anita Sharma, Executive in Centrum Direct, prefers manual to electronic voting saying: “The vote is recorded inside the chip which we can’t see and which can be easily hacked, whereas in ballot system our personal stamp is there.

Dr V Girish, ISRO, says there are lots of controversies throughout the world that the EVMs are tampered with. I do believe that they can be compromised with. The EVMs can be programmed to change (sic) a vote in favour of a particular candidate - say every 5th vote cast. But at the same time this can be cross-checked with the pattern of votes recorded in the register of poll officials in the polling booth.

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