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Vulnerabilities in Electronic Voting Machines in India

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  • Ravi Visvesvaraya Sharada Prasad
    The controversy over Electronic Voting Machines has erupted again with the arrest of my good friend Hariprasad for demonstrating how EVMs can be rigged. I have
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 29, 2010
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      The controversy over Electronic Voting Machines has erupted again with the arrest of my good friend Hariprasad for demonstrating how EVMs can be rigged.

      I have been following EVMs since the 1998 parliamentary elections. I wrote about the vulnerabilities of EVMs in the Hindustan Times on Mon, 26 April 2004 (Ghosts in the Machine, edit page of Hindustan Times), and in the Indian Express on Wed, 5 May 2004 during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

      I also appeared as an expert witness in the High Court of Nagpur in 2004-05. I am attaching my testimony in Nagpur High Court in 2004-05 for anyone who may be interested.

      I also have appeared on TV channels such as Lok Sabha TV and News X TV several times on the vulnerabilities of Electronic Voting Machines.

      Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      Tel: {91} 99 90 265 822, 98 118 36 331
      p @ r 6 7 . net & r @ 5 0 g . com



      BEFORE THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
      BENCH AT NAGPUR
      Election Petition

      Election Petition No. 01 / 2004

      Shri Banwarilal B. Purohit

      Versus

      1)Shri Vilas Muttemwar
      2)Returning Officer
      3)Election Commission of India


      DEPONENT
      Shri Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
      Son of Shri H.Y. Sharada Prasad
      Resident of: 19 Maitri Apartments
      Block A - 3, Paschim Vihar
      New Delhi 110 063

      AFFIDAVIT OF EXAMINATION IN CHIEF

      I, Shri Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, Son of Shri H.Y. Sharada Prasad, born on 07 September 1960 at New Delhi, and Resident of 19 Maitri Apartments, Block A - 3, Paschim Vihar, New Delhi 110 063, the deponent named above, do hereby take oath and state on solemn affirmation as under:

      (1) I say that my professional and educational qualifications are:

      (i) Master of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15213, United States of America, acquired during the years 1982 to 1986.

      (ii) Master of Engineering degree in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15213, United States of America, acquired during the years 1982 to 1985.

      (iii) Lead Assessor Diploma (with Honours) in System and Software Quality Assurance of the European Union’s BOOTSTRAP Programme of the European Strategic Programme for Research in Information Technology. The Honours Diploma was awarded in the year 1993 jointly by the University of Freiburg in Germany and the University of Graz in Austria.

      (iv) Master of Science in Physics, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, 208016, acquired during the years 1977 to 1982.

      (v) Member of the Research Staff at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15213, United States of America, during the years 1985-1986, working on projects sponsored by the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.

      (2) I say that I am a technical and engineering consultant in the fields of electronics, microelectronics, circuit design, computer software, hardware, telecommunications, and datacommunications. I further say that I have nineteen years of international professional experience in providing engineering and technical consultancy and advisory services in these fields to multinational corporations, international organizations, and leading Indian business houses.

      (3) I say that I have published several hundred articles on these subjects in leading international and Indian scientific and technical journals, scholarly journals, as well as mass media magazines and newspapers.

      (4) I say that I write frequently on technical and management policy issues in leading Indian journals such as Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Times of India, Economic Times, Telegraph, Hindu Business Line, Observer of Business and Politics, etc. I further say that I am frequently interviewed by various television channels in India and abroad regarding technical and management policy issues.

      (5) I say that at the invitation of the Hindustan Times newspaper, I wrote the following article on Electronic Voting Machines in April 2004 in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections in April-May 2004, based on my in-depth technical knowledge and experience:

      In his article, "Press to Play" (Hindustan Times, Saturday, 17 April 2004), Kanishka Singh described the various ploys used by polling officials to have votes cast in favour of their preferred candidates by an electorate unfamiliar with electronic voting machines. Singh stated: “The problems experienced with EVMs in the December elections were many. None of them, however, are problems that can't be solved.” But, in fact, there are serious problems with EVMs which cannot be easily resolved, more fundamental than the psychological stratagems used by polling officials to influence a technically illiterate electorate.

      The reliability of the electronic voting machines manufactured by the public sector Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited is doubtful. The software and circuits embedded in the EVMs could very well contain numerous flaws or deliberate backdoors for tampering.

      A maxim of software and microelectronics engineering is that all
      software and electronic and electromechanical systems are to be
      regarded as error-prone unless rigorous testing proves them to be reliable. Significantly, neither BEL nor ECIL have disclosed details of the electronic hardware and software used in their EVMs for scrutiny by neutral experts.

      After the US election fiasco in 2000, USA passed the “Help America Vote” Act, which encouraged the use of electronic voting machines. Several companies, mainly Diebold Election Systems, Election Systems & Software, Hart InterCivic, Sequoia Voting Systems, Advanced Voting Solutions, and Unilect, manufactured EVMs which were used in local and state elections in USA.

      Prominent technologists, mainly Peter Neumann of Stanford Research Institute, David Dill of Stanford University, Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins University, Rebecca Mercuri of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and Erik Nilsson of the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, launched public campaigns questioning the reliability of EVMs manufactured by these companies. They proved that all these EVMs had serious flaws and could be used to rig elections without being detected.

      In an election in Dallas, EVMs made by Election Systems & Software failed to count 44,000 votes. In a local election in Iowa, EVMs made by Election Systems & Software produced a count of 4 million votes in a polling booth of 300 people. In Indiana, an EVM recorded more than 144,000 votes for an electorate of 19,000.

      Diebold's EVMs turned out to be a major scandal with allegations of bribery. Diebold sold its EVMs to state and local governments even though it knew that there was no security on its tabulation software to prevent someone from changing votes and erasing any trace of the activity in the audit log. Anyone with access to the tabulation program during an election -- Diebold's employees, election staff or even hackers -- could change votes and alter the log to erase all evidence.

      Requests to the Election Commission, BEL and ECIL to provide details of the reliability of their EVMs brought forth the following bland assertion:

      “Tamper proof design

      The EVM is designed to be totally tamper proof. Each EVM comes with a sophisticated programme in assembly language : a software fully sealed against outside influence. And the programme is itself fused on to a customised micro processor chip at the manufacturer's end. This ensures that the program is rendered tamper proof and inaccessible.”

      The Election Commission, BEL and ECIL did not provide any of the
      circuit schematics, source code, or test vectors asked for.

      The EVMs manufactured by BEL and ECIL could very well contain the following flaws, which would be practically undetectable without extensive testing by experts:

      * Faulty logic, incorrect algorithms and data flows

      * Errors in circuit design

      * Errors in the software code, especially in the embedded software. Programming in Assembly language is notoriously error prone, even by experts.

      * Errors, or malicious backdoors, in databases

      * Malicious trapdoors in the code to enable rigging

      Reliance should not be placed on the demonstrations provided by ECIL and BEL. Even without deliberate tampering, embedded software and real-time control software can behave very weirdly when they encounter situations that their programmers had not envisaged might occur. Any experienced engineer would tell you that electronic equipment containing firmware or embedded software frequently behaves one way during a short trial, and totally differently in actual field conditions.

      For instance, I can write a software module which would pass all trials but manipulate the results of actual voting. I could programme the EVM to accurately record votes for three hours. I could instruct it to then assign 70 % of all subsequent votes cast to whichever candidate was leading at the end of the first three hours, irrespective of whichever buttons the later voters actually push. Since trials and demonstrations would reasonably be expected to last less than three hours, my EVM would successfully pass all such tests. I could then have my favoured candidate get all his supporters to cast their votes first thing in the morning, so that he would be the leader after three hours of polling. This was alleged to have been done in a local election in USA but could not be proved since the audit trails had also been erased.

      Or I could program the EVM so that at the end of five hours of polling, it would transfer 60% of the votes of the ten lowest candidates to my favoured candidate. Or I could program it so that it would, say, transfer every fourth vote for the Congress to the BJP.

      Or I could manipulate the back-end databases during the counting
      process, as was done in the Diebold cases where it was proved that any election could be rigged, totally without detection, by tampering with the back-end databases after the votes were cast.

      Moreover, the EVMs could be broken into remotely after the election but before the counting. All electronic circuits are subject to electromagnetic interference. Even when the EVMs are kept physically sealed in a strong room, an expert who knows the resonant frequencies of the circuits could remotely send signals to the EVMs from several kilometres away. It is highly unlikely that polling officials would continuously transport and store each and every EVM in electromagnetically shielded Faraday cages.

      It is also not know what vibrations and physical shocks the EVMs can withstand. After the voting, when the EVMs are being transported over bumpy rural roads, the electromechanical components (especially registers and switches), relays, and physical connectors could be reset due to the jerks.

      The Election Commission should pay heed to the warnings issued by the dozens of distinguished technologists who formed the Verified Voting Foundation in USA (http://www.verifiedvoting.org):

      “Computerized voting equipment is inherently subject to programming error, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering. All computer systems are subject to subtle errors. Moreover, computer systems can be deliberately corrupted at any stage of their design, manufacture, and use. The methods used to do this can be extremely difficult to foresee and detect.
      ....
      Unfortunately, there is insufficient awareness that these machines pose an unacceptable risk that errors or deliberate election-rigging will go undetected, since they do not provide a way for the voters to verify independently that the machine correctly records and counts the votes they have cast. Moreover, if problems are detected after an election, there is no way to determine the correct outcome of the election short of a revote.
      ....
      It is therefore crucial that voting equipment provide a voter-verifiable audit trail, by which we mean a permanent record of each vote that can be checked for accuracy by the voter before the vote is submitted, and is difficult or impossible to alter after it has been checked.
      ....
      Without a voter-verifiable audit trail, it is not practical to provide reasonable assurance of the integrity of these voting systems by any combination of design review, inspection, testing, logical analysis, or control of the system development process. For example, a programmer working for the machine vendor could modify the machine software to mis-record a few votes for party A as votes for party B, and this change could be triggered only during the actual election, not during testing.
      ....
      Most importantly, there is no reliable way to detect errors in recording votes or deliberate election rigging with these machines. Hence, the results of any election conducted using these machines are open to question.
      ....
      At this time, the only tried-and-true technology for providing a voter-verified audit trail is a paper ballot, where the votes recorded can be easily read and checked."

      (end of quote from VerifiedVoting.org)

      Based on the three criteria of:

      (a) Lack of a verifiable paper / manual audit trail

      (b) BEL and ECIL not having provided the algorithms, source codes, embedded firmware, integrated circuit schematics, board designs and electronic component specifications, to neutral experts for independent assessments

      (c) Meagre evidence in actual field conditions, as opposed to short demonstrations in laboratory conditions

      it cannot be unequivocally asserted that the EVMs made by BEL and ECIL are accurate and reliable.

      Thousands of hours of testing needs to be done, under actual field conditions, before their reliability can be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

      The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is currently formulating standards that EVMs should satisfy. The Open Voting Consortium, an international group of researchers, has spent over four years developing open-source voting systems. They intend to give away their technology for free.

      The switch from manual voting to EVMs might turn out to be exchanging the known flaws of booth capturing, ballot stuffing, multiple voting, etc. for as yet unknown vulnerabilities.

      by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      I further say that, after editing and shortening by the editorial staff of the Hindustan Times newspaper to meet the constraints of space, this article of mine was published under the title “Ghosts in the Machine” by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, on the Edit Page of the Hindustan Times newspaper, issue of Monday, 26 April 2004 (copy enclosed), and also posted on the website of the Hindustan Times.

      (6) I say that at the invitation of the Indian Express newspaper, I wrote the following article on Electronic Voting Machines in May 2004 during the Lok Sabha elections in April-May 2004, based on my in-depth technical knowledge and experience:

      The first two rounds of polling brought numerous reports of malfunctioning electronic voting machines. In Nunagapaka village of Andhra Pradesh, early voters complained that when they pressed the button of the Congress, the light of the Telegu Desam glowed. The presiding officer, K. Vijayalakshmi, stopped the polling process and replaced the EVMs, but 89 votes had already been cast in the first two hours. The Election Commission is to adjudicate on these 89 votes.

      In Sadasivapet in Andhra Pradesh, early voters complained that when they pressed the button of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the light of the Bharatiya Janata Party glowed. Again the presiding officer replaced the EVM, but by then 138 votes had already been cast.

      In Wardhannapet in Andhra Pradesh, polling agents of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi alleged that after 75 votes had been correctly recorded, a long sequence of votes was continuously recorded in favour of the Telegu Desam. Finding this suspicious, the polling officer sealed the EVM.

      EVMs were also reported to have malfunctioned in Warangal, Khamma, Sattupalli, Takillapadu, and Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh, but these instances appear to be more of breakdowns rather than deliberate rigging.

      The EVMs manufactured by the public sector Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited could contain the following flaws, which would be practically undetectable without extensive testing by experts:

      * Faulty logic, incorrect algorithms, and erroneous data flows.

      * Errors in circuit design.

      * Mistakes in the software code, especially in the embedded software.

      * Mistakes, or malicious backdoors, in databases.

      * Malicious trapdoors in the code to enable rigging.

      Requests to the Election Commission, BEL and ECIL to provide the entire circuit schematics, source codes, and test vectors for scrutiny by neutral experts merely elicited the following laconic response:

      “Tamper proof design
      The EVM is designed to be totally tamper proof. Each EVM comes with a sophisticated programme in assembly language: a software fully sealed against outside influence. And the programme is itself fused on to a customised micro processor chip at the manufacturer's end. This ensures that the program is rendered tamper proof and inaccessible.”

      A subsequent request brought the terse reply that even the Japanese manufacturer of the circuits would not be able to tamper with the voting or find out who voted for whom.

      Reliance should not be placed on the demonstrations provided by ECIL and BEL. Electronic equipment containing firmware or embedded software frequently behave totally differently in actual field conditions from the way they behave during short trials. Even without deliberate tampering, embedded software and real-time control software can behave very weirdly when they encounter situations that their programmers had not envisaged might occur.

      I can write a software module which would pass all trials but manipulate the results of actual voting. I could programme the EVM to accurately record votes for three hours. I could instruct it to then assign 70 % of all subsequent votes cast to whichever candidate was leading at the end of the first three hours, irrespective of whichever buttons the later voters actually push. Since public demonstrations would usually last less than three hours, my ‘tainted’ EVM would successfully pass all such tests. I could then have my favoured candidate get all his supporters to cast their votes first thing in the morning, so that he would be the leader after three hours of polling. This was alleged to have been done in a local election in USA but could not be proved since the audit trails had also been erased.

      Or I could program the EVM so that at the end of five hours of polling, it would transfer 60% of the votes of the five lowest candidates to my favoured candidate. Or I could program it so that it would transfer every third vote for candidate 2 to candidate 10 after a certain sequence of buttons were pushed, say votes for candidates 3, 14, 11, and 9. Candidate 10 could then get four of his supporters to vote in sequence for candidates 3, 14, 11, and 9. Both these were alleged to have been done in local elections in USA. Even in response to lawsuits, the US EVM manufacturers refused to make their proprietary circuits and software codes public, stating that these were trade secrets of great commercial value. This is what might have happened in the Andhra Pradesh instances.

      If someone wanted to engineer a repoll, he could bring an electromagnetic pulse generator near an EVM and erase its memories. The EVMs could also be interfered with after the election but before counting. All electronic circuits are susceptible to electromagnetic interference. Even when the EVMs are kept physically sealed inside a strong room, an expert who knows the resonant frequencies of the circuits could remotely send signals from several kilometres away. It is highly unlikely that polling officials would continuously transport and store each and every EVM in electromagnetically shielded Faraday cages.

      It is also not know what vibrations and physical shocks the EVMs can withstand. After the voting, when the EVMs are being transported over bumpy rural roads, the electromechanical components, registers, switches, relays, and physical connectors could be reset due to jerks.

      An IIT alumnus and professor of electronics in USA, Satinath Choudhary, had filed Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court, pointing out technical flaws in EVMs and requesting that they include provision for an audit trail and a paper backup. Following several scandals, California recently passed legislation requiring all EVMs to have paper backups.

      On 30 April 2004, then Chief Justice V.N. Khare, present Chief Justice S. Rajendra Babu, and Justice S.H. Kapadia delivered the following order:

      “Heard the petitioner, who is appearing in person.

      In case the petitioner files any representation, the Election Commission may consider his suggestions.

      With the observations made above, the writ petition stands disposed of.”
      Several leading technologists, including IIT alumni and professors of engineering in North America, are planning to petition the Election Commission to open the EVMs to expert scrutiny, and to have them modified to include paper backups and audit trails.

      India can draw upon the expertise of the Open Voting Consortium, an international group of researchers, which has spent over four years developing open-source voting systems. They intend to give away their technology for free. The international Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is also currently formulating standards that EVMs should satisfy.

      Based on the three criteria of:

      (a) Lack of a verifiable paper / manual audit trail

      (b) BEL and ECIL not having provided the algorithms, source codes, embedded firmware, integrated circuit schematics, board designs and electronic component specifications, to neutral experts for independent assessments

      (c) Meagre evidence in actual field conditions, as opposed to short demonstrations in laboratory conditions

      the assertions made by BEL and ECIL that their EVMs are accurate cannot be accepted at face value.

      Thousands of hours of testing needs to be done, under actual field conditions, before their reliability can be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The easiest method of doing this, while maintaining the anonymity of the voter, is:

      (a) Modify the EVMs to include a printer.

      (b) After a voter presses the button of his candidate, give him a printed receipt which will verify that the vote is really recorded for the candidate he voted for.

      (c) Have the voter deposit this printouts in a ballot box.

      (d) Compare the results of the EVMs with the manual counting of the printouts to check whether they are identical.

      (e) In the event of any discrepancy, the paper vote should be regarded as the real one.

      This should be done for several dozen elections before it can be
      asserted that the EVMs do not contain any errors or deliberate trapdoors for rigging. Otherwise, the switch from manual voting to EVMs might turn out to be exchanging the known flaws of booth capturing, ballot stuffing, multiple voting, etc. for as yet unknown vulnerabilities.

      Meanwhile, during the next two rounds of voting, voters should take the following precautions.

      I. Ensure that the “Ready Lamp” is lit before you cast your vote. If the “Ready Lamp” is not lit, then the EVM will not register the button you press, and the next voter or presiding officer can cast ‘your’ vote for a candidate of his choice.

      II. Ensure that you, and not the electoral officials, press the button next to the candidate of your choice.

      III. Ensure that the light flashes next to the button of your candidate that you have pressed and the long beep is heard, before you exit the booth. This ensures that the EVM has registered your vote.

      by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      I further say that, after editing and shortening by the editorial staff of the Indian Express newspaper to meet the constraints of space, this article of mine was published under the title “We Need To Know More About EVMs” by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, on the Edit Page of the Indian Express issue of Wednesday 05 May 2004, (copy enclosed), and also posted on the website of the Indian Express.

      (7) I say that there were several news reports in the mass media about malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines during the Lok Sabha polls in April-May 2004.
      (8) I say that according to information received by me and believed by me to be true, the Government of India had constituted a committee headed by Professor P.V. Indiresan, former Director of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and former Dean of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, to investigate the reliability of Electronic Voting Machines. I further say that according to information received by me and believed by me to be true, the Government of India and the Election Commission of India have, to date, not made the report of this committee available to the public, in spite of repeated requests by members of the public and technical experts.

      (9) I say that according to information received by me and believed by me to be true, the Election Commission of India, and Bharat Electronics Limited, and Electronics Corporation of India Limited, have not allowed their Electronic Voting Machines to be independently examined by neutral experts.

      (10) I say that Shri A.N. Jha, Deputy Election Commissioner and Spokesperson to the Election Commission of India, wrote the following letter to the Editor of the Hindustan Times in response to my article which was published under the title “Ghosts in the Machine” by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, on the Edit Page of the Hindustan Times, issue of Monday, 26 April 2004 (copy enclosed):

      MOST IMMEDIATE
      BY FAX / BY SPECIAL MESSENGER

      ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA

      Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi - 110 001

      No. 491/Misc./2004/MCPS
      Dated: May 14, 2004
      The Editor,
      Hindustan Times,
      Hindustan Times Building,
      18-20, Kasturba Gandhi Marg,
      New Delhi-110001.

      Sir,

      Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad wrote on the EVM in the Hindustan Times issue of 5 May 2004. He had also later written in Indian Express issue of 26 April, 2004. He has raised various doubts about the fidelity and reliability of the EVMs. He referred to two villages of Andhra Pradesh where in the first day of poll on 20 April, 2004 some voters had complained that while they pressed the button for the Congress, the light against the TDP glowed and where, therefore, the polling was stopped and the machines were replaced.

      While it is not possible to take out these ‘offending’ machines at this juncture to find out the truth in the allegation because the election process is not complete as yet, it is possible, however to comment on this issue. It is noteworthy that the complaint came only from two polling stations in respect of one machine each. There was no similar complaint from any other place which went to poll on that day either in Andhra Pradesh or anywhere else in the country. There were no such complaints on the second day of polling in Andhra Pradesh. A similar ‘claim’ was half-heartedly spread in Bihar that on pressing the button for RJD, the button against BJP candidate glowed. But in Bihar unlike in Andhra Pradesh, there was no specific complaint concerning any polling station. It is noteworthy that on that day such a complaint did not arise from any other polling station across the country where polling had taken place.

      As a technologist Mr. Prasad should know that algorithm and software is not written for 2 machines. And if there had been such a problem of faulty logic or incorrect algorithm etc. the same complaint should have come from all across the country and in any case, at the minimum, from all places where machines manufactured in that batch were employed.

      Mr. Prasad says that the machines could contain the following flaws:

      * Faulty logic;

      * Incorrect algorithms;

      * Erroneous data flows;

      * Errors in circuit design;

      * Mistake in the software code;

      * Mistake, malicious trapdoors in the code and so on.

      In order to eliminate such possibilities what Mr. Prasad wants are the circuit algorithms, schematics, source code and test vectors etc. As a technologist surely Mr. Prasad would know that for a scrutiny to ensure that the machine functions correctly, instead of seeking all that information the person raising doubt could himself provide the set of test vectors stipulating the input and the expected output for correct functionality and also another set of such test vectors establishing his apprehended incorrect functionality that would vitiate the polling namely vote against wrong candidate, non-registering of votes etc. He would need the circuit schematic, source code etc. only if there was indeed an acknowledged defect and only if he were called upon to debug the system!

      Shri Prasad lists out all that he can do with the software of the machines: write software Modules which would pass all trials and still manipulate the result of an actual voting; succeed in assigning 70% of all votes to a select candidate and thus making the chosen candidate win etc. etc. While the software writing capabilities of the Indians have received high praise all over the world, what Mr. Prasad has claimed is still stretching credibility to the breaking point. By implication Mr. Prasad would like us to believe that all that BEL or ECIL who are manufacturers of the machines for the Election Commission of India and all their R & D engineers are interested is to ensure that the same party or some chosen candidates win especially despite the fact that there are 543 constituencies with a different set of candidates contesting in each one of them!

      It is necessary to mention here that in the scheme adopted by us the position of the candidate and therefore the location of the button to be pressed to cast a vote in his favour is decided not on the basis of the name of his party but is decided on the basis of where his name figures in the list of contesting candidates arranged in the alphabetical order. The software writer should be so exceptionally brilliant as to be able to define this in the software code he writes and arrange to have all the votes credited to one or the other party he fancies. Further he has to do it long before even the list of contesting candidates is known as the manufacturers send the machines to the States and districts even before the nominations are opened. Even if he is not inclined in favour of any party or parties, then Mr. Prasad would have us believe, that the Software Engineers of the two companies would merely do this to prove a point about their (destructive) capability!

      Mr. Prasad lists various methods by which after the poll EVMs could be interfered with like erasing the memory using a electromagnetic pulse generator, sending signals from remote terminals etc. Mr. Prasad would like us to believe that the country is crawling with ‘mad’ engineers and technologists whose only goal in life is to destroy the memory of all the EVMs all over the place after the poll and create a chaos!

      The EC had the machines scrutinized and evaluated by an expert panel headed by Prof. P.V. Indiresan. The Committee had examined all relevant issues and ‘noted that the programme embedded in the device is completely fixed and unalterable and therefore, there is no means or access by which the system can be modified from outside’. The Committee further noted ‘the major advantage of the EVM developed in India is the fixed programme nature of the system. The programme is permanently fused and hence cannot be tampered with even if it can be accessed’.

      EC is ever willing to open the EVMs for scrutiny again if genuinely concerned persons approach it, but not for people who try to draw a non-existent parallel from the US elections and certainly not to those scaremongers who are interested in writing science-fiction.

      Yours sincerely,

      (A.N. Jha)

      Deputy Election Commissioner &
      Spokesperson to the Election Commission of India

      (11) I say that Shri A.N. Jha, Deputy Election Commissioner and Spokesperson to the Election Commission of India, wrote an identical letter to the Editor of the Indian Express in response to my article which was published under the title “We Need To Know More About EVMs” by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, on the Edit Page of the Indian Express issue of Wednesday 05 May 2004, (copy enclosed).

      (12) I say that according to several knowledgeable persons, the letter of Shri A.N. Jha does not credibly address or rebut any of the points that I made in my two articles published in the Hindustan Times and the Indian Express.

      (13) I say that the editors of both the Hindustan Times and the Indian Express consulted several knowledgeable persons about the letter of Shri A.N. Jha. I further say that the editors of both the Hindustan Times and the Indian Express decided not to publish the letter of Shri A.N. Jha, since it was devoid of substance and did not credibly address or rebut any of the points that I had made in my two articles.

      (14) I say that the international Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is the worldwide governing body of the profession, has formulated IEEE Standard number 1583 which sets performance standards for Electronic Voting Machines worldwide. I further say that the Electronic Voting Machines designed and manufactured for the Election Commission of India by Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited do not conform to the requirements of IEEE Standard number 1583.

      (15) I say that it would be easy for a saboteur to open the EVMs from the bottom side, bypassing the sealed and serially numbered top of the EVM, and either replace or reprogramme the circuits inside. This can be done within about fifteen minutes to one hour. I further say that many electronic circuit components, especially EPROMS, EEPROMS, and flash memories, can be reprogrammed even without physically removing them from the board. This could be done by a saboteur after the voting was over but before the counting.

      (16) I say that whenever I cast my vote during elections, I noticed that the EVM had a provision for a serial or parallel communications port. I further say that it would be possible for a saboteur to tamper with the contents of the electronic components of the EVM such as microprocessors, shift registers, adders, etc. by connecting a computer or other such device to the serial or parallel communications port of the EVM. This can even be done remotely from several metres away by using a wireless device to connect to the serial or parallel communications port. This could be done by a saboteur after the voting was over but before the counting.

      (17) I say that based on all the reasons and possibilities for inadvertent hardware and software errors or deliberate tampering or sabotage mentioned by me above, especially

      (a) Lack of a verifiable paper / manual audit trail

      (b) BEL and ECIL not having provided the algorithms, source codes, embedded firmware, integrated circuit schematics, board designs and electronic component specifications, to neutral experts for independent assessments

      (c) Meagre evidence in actual field conditions, as opposed to short demonstrations in laboratory conditions

      the reliability and accuracy of the Electronic Voting Machines used by the Election Commission of India is highly questionable.

      (18) I say that thousands of hours of testing needs to be done, under actual field conditions and under the scrutiny of independent experts, before the reliability and accuracy of the Electronic Voting Machines used by the Election Commission of India can be proven beyond reasonable doubt. I further say that the easiest method of doing this, while maintaining the anonymity of the voter, is:

      (a) Modify the EVMs to include a printer.

      (b) After a voter presses the button of his candidate, give him a printed receipt which will verify that the vote is really recorded for the candidate he voted for.

      (c) Have the voter deposit this printouts in a ballot box.

      (d) Compare the results of the EVMs with the manual counting of the printouts to check whether they are identical.

      (e) In the event of any discrepancy, the paper vote should be regarded as the real one.

      I further say that this procedure should be followed for several dozen elections before the assertions of the Election Commission of India, BEL, and ECIL that their EVMs are reliable and accurate can be accepted beyond reasonable doubt.

      (19) I say that the Election Commission of India should also publicize the procedures and standards that it follows after the voting but before the counting to ensure the safety and integrity of the Electronic Voting Machines, and to ensure that the EVMs are not tampered with by deliberate sabotage, such as by replacement or reprogramming of the electronic components.

      (20) I say that the Election Commission of India should also publicize the procedures and standards that it follows after the voting but before the counting to ensure that the election results are not affected, either accidentally or deliberately, by electromagnetic interference, lightning, high voltages, etc.

      (21) I say that the Election Commission of India should also publicize the procedures and standards that it follows after the voting but before the counting to ensure that the election results are not affected, either accidentally or deliberately, by vibrations or jerks or dropping during transportation.

      (22) I say that because the reliability and accuracy of the EVMs used by the Election Commission has not yet been established beyond reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of independent experts, the results of all elections conducted by using such EVMs are open to question and challenge.

      Hence this affidavit.



      Shri Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
      Son of Shri H.Y. Sharada Prasad
      Resident of 19 Maitri Apartments
      A - 3, Paschim Vihar
      New Delhi 110 063

      DEPONENT
      New Delhi
      Dated: Monday, 25 October 2004


      VERIFICATION

      Verified and signed at New Delhi on this Twenty Fifth day of October 2004, that the contents of the above affidavit from paras 1 to 21 are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.


      Shri Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
      Son of Shri H.Y. Sharada Prasad
      Resident of 19 Maitri Apartments
      A - 3, Paschim Vihar
      New Delhi 110 063

      DEPONENT
      New Delhi
      Dated: Monday, 25 October 2004


      I know and identify the deponent.


      Advocate
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