It looks like episodes of Indian voting machine malfunctioning and mismanagement do not have an ending. Every new election brings a new challenge for the Election Commission of India (ECI) whose job is to conduct a fair and transparent election. After the SC judgement in 2013, ECI is ready for 100% use of VVPAT. In a couple of months we will witness the percentage of VVPATs used in reality. Election management is another challenge for ECI, as officials are caught with EVMs at unauthorized places on different occasions. During Karnataka assembly elections, 8 VVPAT boxes were found in a shed. Many incidents related to EVM and election mismanagement have been reported from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. There exist protocols and procedures for handling EVMs but they are not followed strictly. A status paper on EVMs released in Apr 2017 has a specific chapter on EVM safety and security.
(Updated on Dec 7, 2018)
Lets see what has been reported from Madhya Pradesh and other assembly elections conducted in Nov 2018.
NDTV: EVMs reach storage 2 days after MP polls
India Today: Members fearing EVM tampering camp outside strong room
Dainik Bhaskar: 3 EVMs reach to strong room after 3 days in Pandhana
India Today: ECI admits cameras faced blackout at EVM strong room in MP
TOI: Jaitpur EVM records45 more votes than polled
TOI: 3% EVM glitches during MP assembly elections
Print Media: SUV rams into MP EVM strongroom
NDTV: Security (BSF sub-inspector) found using laptop outside EVM strongroom
Two people found with laptops in EVM strongroom (AltNews, National Herald India, News Central 24×7, JKR)
Here are some video evidences reported by users on social media:
भोपाल के स्ट्रांग रूम जहां EVMs रखी हैं, वहां 2.5 घंटे CCTV बंद, LED भी ठीक से काम नहीं कर रही है…
भाजपा का खेल चालू@CEOMPElections से शिकायत की है।
कलेक्टर को हटाया जाये.. pic.twitter.com/vmagCJQWnK
— Alok Agarwal (@iAlokAgarwal) November 30, 2018
भोपाल के स्ट्रांग रूम में जनरेटर की व्यवस्था ही नहीं कि गयी थी,
2.5 घंटे CCTV बंद होने की घटना के बाद बुलाया गया जनरेटर..
अंदर 10-12 लोग दिख रहे हैं पर किसी को अंदर जाने नहीं दिया जा रहा है..
कोई जिम्मेदार अधिकारी उपस्थित नहीं है.
कलेक्टर को तत्काल हटाया जाये.@CEOMPElections pic.twitter.com/nqi1n4d68D
— Alok Agarwal (@iAlokAgarwal) November 30, 2018
मैंने कहा था की 5 मिनट के लिए अगर EVM मिल जाए तो उसको टेम्पर किया जा सकता है ।
भाजपा और इलेक्शन कमिशन ने कहा – सवाल ही नहीं उठता, EVM मशीन हमेशा हाई सिक्यरिटी में रहती है, सरकारी सेफ़ में सुरक्षित।
भाजपा और इलेक्शन कमिशन झूठ बोल रहे थे।
भाजपा नेता के होटेल में EVM देखो !!! pic.twitter.com/DbMfqI9RxY
— Saurabh Bharadwaj (@Saurabh_MLAgk) November 30, 2018
मोदी, शाह, भाजपा एवं चुनाव आयोग के मिलीभगत का भंडाफोड़
मध्य प्रदेश में आज एक बीना नंबर के स्कूल गाड़ी और 3 बलेरो से सैकड़ो EVM मशीन Strong room में रखते पकड़े गए
तभी तो अमित शाह इतने Confidence से हर चुनाव में पहले ही कह देते हम जीतेंगे
— antiEVM (@EvmAnti) November 30, 2018
Evm ka ghotala by bjp in mp depositing evm after 48 hours after voting carrying by a school van without number plate in MP. pic.twitter.com/QAB3AV1PEX
— ravikapoor (@ravisha1963) December 1, 2018
खुले आम EVM सेटिंग होकर आ रहा है
2019 तक जो लाखो EVM की सेटिंग्स जो होनी है
इस बार अच्छी सेटिंग्स करने का काम चल रहा है
अबकी बार आप को पता भी नही चलेगा आप का वोट किसी और को जा रहा है
बस वोट के दौरान EVM खराब होने की खबर आए गी EVM चलते चलते बन्द
होगा तो समझ लेना EVM हैकिंग pic.twitter.com/q4e1k2NN58
— official (@official1IN) December 1, 2018
What was a school bus (without a number plate) doing with a load of EVMs👇 48 hours after elections were over, just outside a strong room where EVMs are stored in MP❓#BJPseMukti for Fair Elections #AaRahiHaiCongress#BanEVMpic.twitter.com/mNHfyhlKKL
— Geet V (@geetv79) December 1, 2018
AAP @AkshayMarathe on NDTV regarding the concerns related to EVM machines
We want to protect our Democracy. Compromised EVMs are a threat to Democracy pic.twitter.com/N5AJPRVO80
— AAP Ka Mehta (@DaaruBaazMehta) December 1, 2018
Another video of suspicious boxes being moved into the strong room.. from Satna
Should the @CEOMPElections not do a PC and clarify on all these videos and the action taken to prevent any EVM-jacking therein? pic.twitter.com/c5danqHkUl
— Arvind Jha (@jalajboy) December 1, 2018
ECI guidelines clearly mentioned that strongroom must be videographed 24×7, only authorized personnel must be allowed, EVM should not be moved, mandatory presence of police/CRPF etc. But in reality, it was found out that power was out, CCTVs were off for few hours, police/CRPF officials missing in video footage, EVMs found in private places and the presence of different possibilities that can be used to manipulate the election results. Following is one of the concluding paragraphs from the status report:
The machines are non-tamperable, both due to technological measures, and also due to strict administrative and security procedures laid out by ECI, whereby no access to EVM/VVPAT is allowed to any unauthorized person. Hence, these are protected from any tampering/manipulation whether before the polls, or during the polls, or after the polls, in storage or transportation from manufacturer to the State/District or vice versa, or when transported from one state to another.
Status paper containing guidelines and other information is either removed or moved to some other location as the original link is not working. Here is an archived link of the document. You can also find the report on google drive. The report which contains a brief EVM introduction, socio-political feedback, EVM design & manufacturing protocols and historical uses of EVM in other countries, has a special focus on EVM safety and security which describes technological safeguards, administrative procedures and storage & transportation protocols. Both election and non-election periods have different storage and transportation protocols. Following are election period protocols for EVM safety and security.
Storage and Transportation Protocols
Election Commission of India ensures the storage and transportation of EVMs/VVPATs remain under the strict control of ECI at all times through the following procedures and instructions:
DURING NON-ELECTION PERIOD:
DURING ELECTION PERIOD:
Storage of EVMs
Procedure to be followed for storing polled EVMs in strong room:
Undoubtedly, guidelines are crisp and clear. But the question of where and how the loopholes exist remains because of which certain people not only try to hack a democratic process but also never get caught. If you have any idea which might help ECI to draw a better strategy or improve election procedure, please write them on firstname.lastname@example.org or call their control room at 23052220 and 23052221. It seems, the given email is only meant for complaint registration. I wish there was a ticket-based feedback form. It is not necessary that your idea is implemented, but it will be good to see that it is heard. You can find phone numbers of ECI officials here.
Read More 🔻
Loopholes in EVM security and ECI regulatory actions
Status report on EVM and its reality check
Deficiencies in Indian election system and solutions
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