EVM hacking challenge Day 3 June: EC refuses to allow participation of foreign experts

New Delhi: Election Commission on Saturday sets EVM hacking challenge Day at 3 June, 2017 for all the political parties, but refuses to allow participation of foreign experts in the event.

EVM-hacking-challenge-Day-3-June

The challenge will be open only to recognised national and regional parties who took part in the recently concluded assembly elections in five states. They can nominate up to three representatives to take part in the challenge, provided they are all of Indian nationality.

Confronting the conspiracy narrative of Aam Aadmi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Trinamul Congress that the recent Assembly elections, especially in UP, were rigged, the Election Commission on Saturday declared open the challenge to break into its Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

"The EVM Challenge will begin on June 3 onward. Each political party will get a time slot of four hours, during which they will be granted access to EVMs, VVPATs and ballot units for EVM challenge," announced Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi at a press conference called to demonstrate the robustness and non-tamperability of EVMs and related machines.

Zaidi refused to allow participation of foreign experts saying that there is no scope for them as these were India-specific elections done through made-in-India EVMs.

All political parties willing to join the challenge will have to confirm their participation to the Commission by 5 pm on May 26. The duration of the challenge is mostly likely to be spread over 4 to 5 days, but will be finalised depending on the response of the political parties, Zaidi said.

The challenge will be based on two case scenarios to prove that EVMs can be tampered with to alter results before and during polling and second that tampering can take place while the machine is kept in the EC's custody.

In both the cases, the claimants will have to alter the results in the control unit used during the polls in exactly the same scenario as the EVMs remain within the administrative and technical safeguards in the storage rooms.

They can attempt altering the results by pressing combination of keys on Control Unit (CU), Ballot Unit (BU) or both or by using external devises such as wireless, Bluetooth and mobile phones etc.

A claimant will be considered to have failed if the EVM turns non-operational upon tampering attempt; results match with control unit; challenger defies norms or withdraws.

Zaidi insisted that the Challenge is not for losing or winning but is being held in a healthy spirit to learn and improve upon the existing safeguards.

"Through this challenge we want to restore and enhance faith and confidence of voters in EVM voting system," Zaidi said.

Yet serving a warning to the wannabe challengers, Zaidi said, "Our EVMs are devised to self destruct if tampered with rather than storing that change in information, thus if the machine stops working then the challenger will fail."

During the Challenge political parties can only choose a maximum of four EVMs used in the last Assembly elections in any four constituencies to demonstrate. Only those EVMs that have been sealed under court orders will not be used for the challenge.

"The nominees can ask for EVMs from any Assembly constituency, they will be allowed to travel along with the machines while being brought to the demonstration site to ensure that they are not touched by anyone else," Zaidi said.

The Challenger will not be allowed to take the EVMs out of the premises nor can change or tamper with their internal circuits.

"If we allow this, the machines will no more remain the EC-EVMs. It will become individual's machine rendering the challenge meaningless," said Prof D T Shahani of IIT-Delhi, a member of independent technical expert committee on EVMs, who deals with the hardware and instruments.

The Commission said it had received 120 petitions, including 41 alleging wrong results, but when it asked for evidence and credible material information supporting these claims, none came forward.

How to go about it
  • Challenge 1: Tampering of electronic voting machines before and during polling
  • Challenge 2: Altering results in EVMs after the polling is over
Parties can do it by pressing keys on ballot unit and control unit or both
Or externally by using wireless, bluetooth or mobile phones

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