Millennium Post

How to steal an election

The issue of electronic voting machines is of key importance to the future of our democracy. Even though there is a case pending in the Supreme Court on the issue, a decision on it has to be taken independently by the Election Commission in the interests of fair elections, which it has not done so far. In the absence of a fair procedure for the counting of votes an election is likely to be vitiated by fraud as may have happened in the 2009 Lok Sabha election in some constituencies.  In 2009 there were a very large number of complaints regarding EVMs. These have gone largely unheeded and the issue has nearly been swept under the carpet.

This should not have been the case as electoral fraud is not unknown in India and the manipulation of EVMs is a variety of this crime. Intimidation, vote-buying and ballot stuffing are just a few of the tactics that have been used in the past with paper ballots to distort election results, and electoral fraud has been practiced in the past on a sufficiently large enough scale to distort election results. There is no reason to believe that the introduction of EVMs have resulted in a change of moral character of those who benefit from votes.  As early as July 2009, the fact that these machines could easily be tampered with and manipulated was demonstrated by a Hyderabad based NGO and election watchdog. It was proved that the machines could be programmed in such a way that they would register votes for a particular candidate or party only. In fact, there are many types of improper manipulations possible with EVMs and they have many vulnerabilities. It is even possible to install a programme such as the Trojan Horse, which can have the appearance of normal and pass ordinary testing.  Such a programme can wake up at the crucial time and can register a certain plausible number of votes in favour of a certain candidate and party. It can be programmed to delete itself as well so as to erase all evidence. EVMs can even have secret wireless features that are difficult to detect.

The storage of a vote is in the memory of an EVM which can easily be re-written from an external source. Matters are made worse as some of the components of EVMs, such as chips, are found to be imported. This allows for the possibility of a foreign government to interfere in the election, possibly with the connivance of local politicians or parties with foreign allegiance with whom they have a secret understanding and who are willing to sell the country to the highest bidder.  Whether this happened in the 2009 election is something that can perhaps never be proved. If it happened, then it was a disaster for Indian democracy and it is important to make sure that EVM fraud does not repeat itself.

The matter has some importance as the present UPA government  is deeply immersed in corruption scandals and shows no remorse, with extent of corruption of this government unparalleled in Independent India. Case after case have tumbled out of the closet, including some that have taken place under the very nose of our prime minster, who shamelessly continues to cling to his post, allowing the loot of the country. This government has also shown a propensity authoritarianism, and has been trying to suppress those  who are opposed to it, cracking down on political opponents, imposing cases of doubtful merit against them, placing them under surveillance, and other forms of harassment, in acts reminiscent of the worst days of Emergency.

It has attempted to curb freedom of speech through control of Internet freedom. It has attacked social media only in order to prevent free speech and the criticism of the working of the government. This is thus not only an inept government but is one without morals and scruples and has much to cover up. It would like to escape the just chastisement that is due to it for its misdeeds and would like to continue its profiteering and racketeering.  

For this it needs to win the election to perpetuate itself in power. It has attempted in the past to pack the Election Commission with its favourites and it continues to do so.  It does so in the hope that the election commission will be pliable and favourable to it, though this may not have always happened. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Election Commission has dragged its feet on the issue of EVMs despite there being compelling evidence that the EVMs are susceptible to manipulation.

The possibility and propensity of this government to steal the election through its stooges and through rigged EVMs must be definitely closed.  It is a known fact that many countries have reverted to a simple paper ballot precisely because of fears of manipulation of the EVMs. Therefore, public opinion in the country must be roused to ensure that the evil of the EVMs, in the hands of a corrupt political party, does no damage to Indian democracy.  

It is only the will of the people that must reflect in the election results.
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