Millennium Post

NCP alone ready for 'EVM challenge', rest to skip it

The Election Commission's much-awaited hack the electronics voting machine challenge failed turned out to be a flip-flopper as except Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), no party -- either national or regional – came forward to take part in the hackathon, which is scheduled to happen on June 3.

According to an Election Commission official, majority of political parties sought more time to prepare themselves to crack the EVMs and prove their point that machines not tamper-proof, while a few others refused to participate in the challenge saying that EC has not given the full access of the EVMs to them.

"Only NCP has sent their request to take part in the EVM hackathon, while no other party has registered themselves with EC on the last day. The poll panel would not extend the deadline for request submission," an EC official said.

In reply to a question, as will the EVM challenge happen, the official said, "The final decision in this regard would be taken after taking legal opinion on it, which may be announced in a few days."
According to Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar, his party didn't send the request as JDU was in support of voting through EVM and with more transparency. "Given that JDU was in support of EVMs and demanding more transparency in voting, the EC has already announced of holding all upcoming polls through VVPAT machines. So there was no pint in sending a team to hack the machines," the JDU leader told Millennium Post.

According to sources, other parties, including Congress, CPI, CPM, BJD, too refrained from taking part in the EVM hackathon as they were in support of voting through machines. Sources also said that Trinamool Congress, which has demanded re-introduction of ballot papers, sought more time to take part in the challenge.
While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has accused the Election Commission of "running away from a no-holds-barred hackathon", has also decided to not take up the poll panel's challenge to demonstrate that its EVMs can be tampered with.

In a letter to the poll commission, AAP said that it had promised a hackathon but with "rules and regulations". "Hackers are invited to test the security of any system, using any tools available. Such ethical hacking is to help understand loopholes so that they can be removed in the future," it said.

It wondered why the EC – "an institution that has always protected democracy" -- was not ready for an open hackathon to safeguard the country's election process. The letter, to Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, was in response to EC's rejection of AAP's demand that it be allowed to "tamper" with the EVM motherboard at the challenge. "Why is the Election Commission running away from no- holds barred hackathon," it asked.

"You have said that tampering or replacing the motherboard of an EVM would mean that it is no longer the same device. (But) how would you know that the motherboards of the existing EC machines have not been replaced or tampered with," the letter, written by AAP national secretary Pankaj Gupta, asked?
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