New Delhi, May 20: Amid allegations of rigged polling from a major political quarter, the Election Commission of India decided to hold the ‘EVM hackathon challenge’ from June 3 onwards. Chief Election Commissioner Naseem Zaidi invited all national and regional political parties, with doubts against the functioning of electronic voting machines, to participate in the hackathon.
CEC urged the interested political outfits to register themselves for the hackathon by 5 PM on May 26. The EVM challenge would be held at the Commission’s headquarters in the national capital.
The two variants at hackathon – Challenge I and Challenge II, aim to address two forms of allegations raised by political parties. The first form of challenge allows the participants to alter the results of EVMs which have already been used for polls. The second variant of challenge would allow participants to hack the machine code in order to produce desired results, contrary to the mock poll which would be conducted by them.
The first challenge pertains to the allegations of EVM tampering following the polls in the recent assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand. As per the accusations, the EVM were tampered after the polls to alter the results in favour of a particular party or candidate.
The representative of a political party, participating in Challenge 1, would be provided four EVMs from any four constituencies of any among the five states which recently went to polls. The claimants will hence have to alter the results in the EVMs used during these polls in exactly the same scenario as the EVMs remain within the technical and administrative safeguards of ECI before the poll. The alteration could be done using the buttons present on the EVM machines, along with external devices including bluetooth and mobile phones.
The claimant would be declared successful in the challenge if he succeeds in altering the final results, as compared to what was originally recorded in the recently held polls.
However, the challenger under Challenge 1 shall be declared ‘unsuccessful’ if he fails to alter the final results of the respective EVM machines. “The claimant shall be deemed to have ”FAILED” if EVM is functional and results displayed on the CU after conduct of challenge attempt are the same as ECI declared results stored on the chosen CU (prior to the pressing of CLEAR Button),” says the statement issued by Commission.
Under Challenge II, the claimant would need to prove that EVMs used in recent assembly elections were hacked before the polling in a bid to achieve the desired results. Commission would provide the claimants sealed EVMs from any four polling stations from any of the five states where elections were recently conducted. The challenger needs to alter the code in such a manner to achieve his desired results. Before the mock poll, claimant would have to inform the EC officials at hackathon about the pattern in which he would be voting.
Entire sequence of challenge 2 would be recorded using a camera in order to maintain complete transparency, CEC announced.
If the results are found contrary to the manner in which mock poll was conducted, the challenger would be declared as successful. However, he would be deemed to have failed if the mock poll results are accurate as per the voting. The challenger would also be declared unsuccessful if the EVM turns inoperative following the attempt to tamper it.
‘Cannot allow challengers to change circuit’
In an apparent retaliation to the Aam Aadmi Party, the CEC said, “In the challenge, we cannot allow participants to change the circuit. Because changing the circuit means manufacturing a new machine. It is common sense, after changing the circuit of any device it is totally tampered. It cannot be an ECI EVM then.”
AAP had organised an EVM hack-demo in the Delhi assembly earlier in the month, using a an ‘EVM look-alike’ to prove how results could be tampered.