EVMs Being Hacked Being a Hot Topic: Another Way of Undermining Democracy

by January 23, 2019 0 comments

Let us get one thing straight, even a stand-alone electronic machine, no matter how simple, can be manipulated. If you have the knowledge, expertise and time, you can hack your kitchen appliances like a toaster or blender. If you have a lot of time and an unlimited budget, you might even be able to do so over the air, but the sheer expense and effort required to do that makes it unviable. The reason we are talking about basic kitchen appliances is that they are as simple as an Indian electronic voting machine (EVM). A microwave or advanced food processor is not let alone anything that is connected to the internet of things. If the question is whether an EVM can potentially be hacked, it might be possible. But can it happen in reality is a different question altogether and the accusations being thrown by random, untrustworthy people have to be dismissed with a degree of condescension.

A basic degree of understanding the way an Indian election is conducted needs to be understood. If you have ever voted in an election, you would have seen the huge number of voting agents of every colour at every contested seat. Most Indian voters are smart enough to look and register who they have voted for. If they notice something grossly out of line, they would immediately find the booth agent for their party of choice and the complaint is forwarded with alacrity. In fact, the biggest risk in Indian elections has always been and will continue to be human intervention. Fake votes are cast in the name of others thanks to corrupt electoral agents and by musclemen. This still happens with alarming regularity in some rural areas and where single political forces dominate. That said, the rise of electronic and online media, which brings such instances to light rapidly in most cases, has managed to reduce the problem. In talking about EVMs being the problem, some folks would rather that you focus on an issue that does not exist and make excuses for their electoral failures. It is also an insidious plot to undermine democracy by some politicians who are out of power and we must see through that.

That said, the Election Commission of India, in addition to denying these allegations, must make a strong effort to show that their voting machines are secure. At the same time they should work overtime to ensure that the machines are securely stored and accounted for. Stories emerged during recent polls across India that EVMs were found in strange places. Again the human element comes into play just like it does in paper ballots. To those who doubt the veracity of the elections in India, including some journalists, we would urge them to learn a bit more. India cannot bear the cost and the time of conducting paper ballot elections, and hopefully the latest issue by some nobody trying to position himself as the Edward Snowden of India should be dismissed. After all, Snowden and Julian Assange have emerged as Russian agents out to undermine American democracy. So we should treat this latest crackpot with the same contempt.

Writer and Courtesy: The Pioneer

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