Special Correspondent

Demonstration planned this week

Software is one-time programmable and is burnt into chip at the time of manufacture

EVM in India is a fully stand-alone machine

New Delhi: The Election Commission has invited all those who have expressed fears about the possibility of electronic voting machines being tampered with to prove their point. It will hear their views here in the first week of August in the light of the Supreme Court observation, while disposing of a plea by V. V. Rao and three others raising questions about the use of the EVMs, that the petitioners could approach the Commission.

The Commission said, “Those who have made petitions before the courts have been invited for the purpose along with the political parties which have written to the Commission.”

A demonstration, at the headquarters of the Commission, would be held in the presence of a technical experts group as well as engineers representing EVM manufacturers. The Commission expects that the demonstration would once and for all set at rest any misgivings anywhere, “in the interest of the country’s electoral democracy.”

It said: “The Commission remains entirely satisfied that EVMs cannot be tampered with. These are fully tamper-proof. So far, no one has been able to demonstrate that EVMs used by the Election Commission can be tampered [with] or manipulated. EVMs have served the country’s elections well. These were introduced after long ranging political, technical and administrative consultations since 1979. The use of machines has helped to prevent several electoral malpractices and resulted in more efficient conduct of elections.”

The Commission said the petitioners in courts and some others alleged that that the machine could be tampered with during the manufacturing process or while operating it. “It has also been mentioned that some of the Western countries have given up using the EVMs. The fact is that unlike the machines used by other countries, which are based on operating systems, the software in the EVM chip is one-time programmable and is burnt into the chip at the time of manufacture. Nothing can be written on the chip after the manufacture.”

Elaborate checks

It said: “The EVM in India is a fully stand-alone machine without being part of any network and with no provision for any input. In addition, elaborate administrative measures and procedural checks are in place to make the EVM doubly safe against any possible tampering or misuse. So, it is completely tamper-proof. At the same time, the Election Commission is fully alive to its onerous responsibility not to allow even a small shade of doubt about any aspect of its operation. While the Commission completely rejects the contention regarding fallibility of the EVMs, it has now decided to go the extra distance by inviting all those who have expressed reservations about the machine to come and demonstrate the points made in their allegations.”