New Delhi: Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party and the Left will try to prove that electronic voting machines (EVMs) can be rigged as the Election Commission gets ready to host its EVM challenge in Delhi this morning. On Friday evening, the Uttarakhand High Court rejected a plea which called for a stay on the EVM challenge claiming the Election Commission does not have the authority to conduct the event. The high court also barred political parties and others from criticising the use of EVMs in the five state assembly elections “till pending election petitions are decided”, a decision that has cast a shadow on the Aam Aadmi Party’s planned parallel hackathon.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this story:
- “The vote machine (EVM) challenge is on as scheduled. It will start at 10 am. The NCP and CPI-M have nominated three representatives each. The challenge will happen in two separate halls simultaneously,” an Election Commission spokesperson said on Friday evening.
- A two-judge bench of the Uttarakhand High Court, while giving the go ahead for the EVM challenge, frowned at the event nonetheless, observing that it “may influence the outcome of election petitions wittingly or unwittingly”.
- The Election Commission has announced that a total of 14 EVMs will be made available to representatives of Sharad Pawar’s party and the Left, who hope to prove that the Election Commission is wrong and that the equipment used by it can be gamed, as alleged by a series of political parties.
- At the Election Commission’s event, hackers will get four hours – from 10 am to 2 pm – and access to four machines each. The other EVMs will be kept as back up.
- The Election Commission has said its challenge has two parts – the hackers will have to prove that the EVMs used in the five states that just voted, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, were manipulated to favour a particular candidate or political party by altering the results stored in them. Part Two of the challenge calls for participants to prove that the machines used in the assembly polls were manipulated before or on the day of voting.
- The participant will be considered “failed” if the EVM stops functioning as a result of its inbuilt defense mechanism against tampering.
- The participants – three members per party – can “physically examine” EVMs and check circuits, chips and motherboard, but cannot replace any part. Arvind Kejriwal’s party had asked for these restrictions to be removed, claiming it “would not be possible to tamper with the machines without giving people a free hand to do so.”
- Arvind Kejriwal’s party had asked for these restrictions to be removed, claiming it “would not be possible to tamper with the machines without giving people a free hand to do so.”
- At its parallel hackathon, AAP will make available to techies and others a machine that was used by the party in the Delhi Assembly last month in a televised demonstration of its manipulation. The Election Commission said the machine used was a far cry from the real thing and rejected the result.
- Many parties including the Congress and AAP had alleged that EVMs could be tampered with after the BJP scripted gigantic wins in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.