The basic tenet of Law of Natural Justice is that the justice should not only be done, but should also be seen to be done. Extending the same principle to the transparent and fair elections procedure, the Indian election commission in one of unique events showed stakeholders that equally important to conducting fair election is to satisfy stakeholders that the process and machinery used to conduct elections are foolproof.
The Election Commission of India had, in an extraordinary measure, invited all national and state recognised political parties to come and participate in the EVM challenge announced by it on 20th May, 2017 as per the framework of the challenge.
Two political parties namely, NCP and CPI(M) had submitted their interest in participating the EVM challenge till 5.00 PM on 26th May, 2017. Since none of the two political parties specified their choices for EVMs to be chosen from five poll gone states, the Commission brought 14 EVMs randomly in sealed condition kept in strong rooms from 12 Assembly Constituencies of Punjab, Uttrakhand and Uttar Pradesh for the EVM challenge scheduled for 3rd June, 2017.
Earlier, Commission had a meeting with all National and State Political Parties on 12 May 2017 in which 42 parties participated. While majority expressed full confidence on the integrity of EVMs, a few continued to raise doubts on functioning of the ECI-EVM. Commission had held a press conference on 20 May 2017 and explained in great detail why it has absolute confidence on non-tamperability of ECI-EVMs working within the technical and administrative safeguards. Commission then announced an EVM Challenge and spelt out a complete framework and send to all political parties on 20th May alongwith invitation.
Today both the parties (NCP and CPI-M) reported to the Challenge Venue on the 7th floor. However CPI(M) told they do not wish to participate in the challenge but only want to understand the EVM process. A detailed demonstration of the entire process was given to them by our technical team. They also expressed desire to interact with the TEC and had a detailed doubt clearing session in which in depth technical doubts were clarified by TEC of the Commission. CPI(M) team then expressed complete satisfaction and suggested that to allay any such doubts Commission should hold such demonstrations and awareness sessions with technical community proactively. Commission welcomes their very constructive suggestion.
Recently, Uttarakhand high court in its judgement had said “Prima facie, it is evident from a combined reading of the entire press release of ECI that this system is seal proof. The EVMs are not hackable. There cannot be any manipulation at manufacturing stage. The results cannot be altered by activating a Trojan Horse through a sequence of key presses. The ECI-EVMs cannot be physically tampered with. The EVMs use some of the most sophisticated technological features like One Time Programmable (OTP) microcontrollers, dynamic coding of key codes, date and time stamping of each and every key press etc. These EVMs also cannot be tampered with during the course of transportation or at the place of storage. There are checks and balances to ensure tamper-proofing of EVMs”.
The Election Commission expressed gratitude to all the citizens, voters, political parties and all stakeholders for their unwavering faith in the Commission for more than 67 years. “The Commission would further like to thank all political parties for showing their continuous trust and confidence in the Election Commission of India as expressed during interventions of political parties on 12th May in the All Party Meeting. The Commission would like to reassure the people of the country that the Commission would leave no stone unturned in preserving the purity, integrity and credibility of the Elections and reinforcing the faith and trust of the people in the electoral democracy of our country. I wish to reassure that citizens of the country that the Commission will never ever allow the faith of the people in the integrity of the election process to be shaken. The Commission desire all citizens and stakeholders to remain aware, vigilant and alert about our electoral processes so that Commission can further strengthen the conduct of free and fair elections in the country,” said the chief election commissioner.
News Update | 22Jan2019| ECI reaffirms Non-Tamperability of EVMs
- The ECI-EVMs are stand-alone machines designed to connect only amongst ECI-EVM units (Ballot Unit, Control Unit and VVPAT) through cables that remain in full public view.
There is no mechanism in ECI-EVMs to communicate with any device through wireless communication on any Radio Frequency.
All versions of ECI-EVMs are regularly and rigorously tested against low to high wireless frequencies. These tests include and go beyond the standard tests specified for electronic equipments
- ECI-EVMs are regularly tested for proper functioning under all kind of operating conditions.
- ECI-EVMs are also regularly tested for code authentication and verification.
In the context of Syed Shuja alleging about the two side printing of VVPAT paper which allegedly retains lower tampered print while the front side print as verified by the voter, getting erased, the TEC clarified that VVPATs use thermal printers which can print only on one side of thermal paper. The print is fully visible through the viewing window. The paper rolls used in VVPATs have only one-sided thermal coating and hence can be printed only on one side. The VVPAT paper print lasts atleast for five years.
CMDs of Bharat Electronics and Electronics Corporation of India, who are the sole manufacturers of EVMs and now also VVPATs, also reaffirmed that all the TEC prescribed Standard Operating Procedures are scrupulously adhered to and observed.
It is however reiterated that while ECI-EVMs might malfunction sometimes like any other machine due to component failures and stop working, but even such a malfunctioning ECI-EVM would not record any vote incorrectly. It is reaffirmed that ECI-EVMs are not tamperable. ECI has also lodged an FIR u/s 505(1)(b) of IPC against Shuja with DCP, New Delhi district.