He seeks national debate to clear “doubts in the minds of voters”

Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu doubts that electronic voting machines (EVMs) are non-tamperable, and has sought a national debate to “clear all the doubts in the minds of voters.”

“I am convinced that there is scope for tampering with the EVMs,” he said here on Monday after launching a website, www.indianevm.com, hosted by election analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao and information technologist Hariprasad.

Though he would not blame the Election Commission, with the existing EVMs people were not sure whether the votes they cast went to the candidates of their choice, Mr. Naidu said. When Germany, Singapore and some European countries had gone back to the paper ballot, as the EVMs could be tampered with and hacked, why should India alone use such machines? “The EC should not stand on false prestige and gracefully go in for a debate as the issue involved the fundamental rights of the citizens.”

Mr. Naidu said he would take up the issue with other parties. There would be nothing wrong in the country going back to the old system of ballot votes if the machines were not safe and susceptible to tampering.

The former Chief Secretary of Delhi and IIT alumnus, Omesh Saigal, asked why the chip used in EVMs was allowed to be written in the United States. “A Trojan horse is sitting inside the machine.”

During August last, the EC said it gave opportunities to political parties and individuals who claimed that EVMs could be manipulated to prove their case. But “they either failed or chose not to demonstrate,” it said.

“The EC would like to underline that it always had a firm conviction and complete satisfaction that EVMs could not be tampered with. Its faith in the machine has never wavered through the conduct of elections in the last many years.”

None was able to actually demonstrate that the EVMs used by the Commission could be tampered with. “What has been demonstrated or claimed to have been demonstrated is on a privately assembled lookalike of ECI-EVMs and not the actual EVM, produced by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited,” the Commission said.