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Indian EVMs far superior: EC

An EVM before the challenge in Delhi.

An EVM before the challenge in Delhi.   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

CEC Nasim Zaidi reiterates tamper-proof features of standalone machines

Seeking to dispel the doubts about Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) security, the Election Commission on Saturday reiterated that the device being a standalone machine could not be hacked and that it was far superior to those manufactured abroad.

Indian manufacturers have supplied EVMs to Namibia, Nepal and Bhutan. Several other countries, including Australia, Russia, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Bulgaria, have also shown interest in the product, the EC said.

At a press conference, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said the EC’s machines — manufactured by two public sector undertakings, Bharat Electronic Limited and Electronics Corporation of India — do not have any frequency receiver or data decoder for wireless signalling. He also ruled out any manipulation at the manufacturing stage due to very stringent security protocol on software security.

“The machines have been manufactured in different years starting from 1989. After manufacturing, EVMs are sent by the EC to States and districts. The manufacturers are in no position to know several years ahead which candidate will be contesting from a particular constituency and what will be the sequence of candidates on the ballot unit. Therefore, they cannot manipulate EVMs in a pre-determined manner…,” he said.

Results cannot be altered

The results cannot be altered even by activating any malicious software as the chip used is only one-time programmable.

The control unit activates the ballot unit for only one key press at a time; any additional key pressed is not sensed and this makes it impossible to send signals by pressing a sequence of keys or secret codes.

Dr. Zaidi said due to digital signatures of manufacturers on the components, they cannot be changed without getting noticed.

The new model introduced in 2013 has additional features like tamper detection and self diagnostics, which checks if any changes have been made.

Reacting to assertions of some political parties on several countries having stopped using EVMs, Dr. Zaidi said the machines used in Netherlands, Ireland and Germany were privately manufactured and had no independent certification system.

The voting data in Netherlands was transferred using CDs, unlike the EC-EVMs where it is stored internally and never transferred. Also, these countries lacked end-to-end administrative, security and legal frameworks. There was no audit feature in their EVMs, he added.

In the United States, the direct recording machines are used in 27 states, among which paper audit trails are used in 15 states.

In India, the EC will henceforth use paper-audit trails in all the elections, Dr. Zaidi said.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 7:29:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indian-evms-far-superior-ec/article18516933.ece

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