On Why Indian EVMs are unconstitutional and tamperable

published on November 3, 2010

The book edited by Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Dr. S. Kalyanaraman, was released. The title is: Electronic Voting Machines – Unconstitutional and Tamperable (300 pages. Price: Rs. 395. Vision Books Pvt. Ltd., 24 Feroze Gandhi Road, Lajpat Nagar 3, New Delhi 110024, India Phone: + 91 11 2983 6470 and 2983 6480 email: [email protected]

The Delhi High Court is scheduled to hear on November 24, 2010 Dr. Subramanian Swamy’s case with pleas for
1) a paper-printout from EVMs in accordance with the Cyberlaws of India to ensure transparency of election process and
2) return to paper ballots if such a print-out mandated by law cannot be given.

The previous Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Navin Chawla made a false claim that no one has been able to demonstrate the tamperability of Indian EVMs. Centre for National Renaissance took up the challenge and organized an International Conference of IT experts, constitutional lawyers in Chennai on 13 February 2010. The contributions made by experts from USA, Germany, Netherlands and India, at this International Conference held in Chennai are included in this book. These contributions demonstrate and prove beyond any doubt the unconstitutionality and tamperability of Indian EVMs. The EVMs as presently used is also illegal since the provisions of the Information Technology Act have been violated.

The book is a comprehensive review of Information Technology, legal and constitutional aspects related to the use of Indian EVMs. The book is expected to create the necessary public opinion to make the EC withdraw the EVMs if they cannot be safeguarded to public satisfaction, and thus return to the paper ballot system. The book makes a host of startling and alarming revelations on the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Indian elections which call for a Parliamentary probe:

·               The continued use of electronic voting machines in Indian elections is unconstitutional because Indian EVMs are non-transparent and vitiate the requirement of voter control over the balloting and counting process, which is a basic feature of India’s Constitution.

·               EVMs are tamperable, posing the risk of wholesale rigging of election results. Computer experts have consistently held that Indian EVMs are not completely secure from software and hardware manipulation. Also, Indian EVMs can be hacked both before and after elections to alter election results.

·               Universal use of EVMs in Indian elections may also be illegal as per a judgement of the Supreme Court of India in 1984.

The book moreover documents

    *     the failure of Electronic Corporation of India and Bharat Electronics (the public-sector unit suppliers of Indian EVMs) to obtain international patent for Indian EVMs. Flags the danger of private EVM manufacturers producing look-alike EVMs.

    *          That the election process has been compromised by getting components and services for Indian EVMs through foreign sources and agents of foreign companies. ECI has to certify if ECIL and BEL really make all the components and services used in Indian EVMs.

    *          That the Indian EVMs have embedded (burnt-in or masked) programs in electronic controllers  burnt-in or masked by foreign companies or their agents; such programs cannot be read by ECI or ECIL or BEL. So, no one knows and no one can verify and validate how the votes are polled or counted by Indian EVMs.

The book includes

    * a resolution adopted by the experts of the International Conference recommending return to paper ballots if the transparency and tamperability issues cannot be addressed satisfactorily.
    * The following letters from independent experts raising serious objections to Indian EVMs and recommending a return to paper ballots:

o    Letter of Prof. David Dill of Stanford University to Navin Chawla, CEC   

o    Letter of US Professors and IT Experts  to Chief Election Commissioner of India

o    Letter of Shri Omesh Saigal Former Chief Secy, Delhi, to Prime Minister

EVMs have already been banned in many countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and Italy, and the list is getting longer. Thus, there is a growing lack of confidence in EVMs the world over. Why should India persist with a failed system that has been abandoned worldwide? The risk of wholesale rigging inherent in EVMs, howsoever small, cannot be accepted in a democracy where the stakes in winning elections are so high. The book brings together a panel of political, constitutional and technical experts and makes a powerful and substantive case for the discontinuation of EVMs in Indian elections if these cannot be safeguarded to public satisfaction. The book is an eye-opener and a must-read for all politicians and citizens alike.

Some Contributions

Dr. Subramanian Swamy’s  contribution establishes the reality that EVMs are not tamper proof and exposes the falsity of the claim of Election Commissioner.

Dr. Kalyanaraman
1) argues that Election Commission is accountable to make any machine comply with  the Nation’s Cyber Law
2) provides the evidence of 1000 year old tradition of secret ballot which started in Uttaramerur, Tamilnadu during the Chola times, a tradition which was also cited in the Constituent Assembly debates and
3) elaborates why the introduction of machines violates the basic feature of the Constitution which mandates adult suffrage implying voter control over balloting and counting processes.

Shri Sam Rajappa, senior correspondent, The Statesman avers that EVMs can be rigged.

Dr. Till Jaeger, Advocate in German Supreme Court explains reasons why German Supreme Court declared the use of EVMs as unconstitutional and why any efficiency criterion cannot override the basic feature of voter control and transparency of the election process.

Dr. Anupam Saraph makes a case for banning EVMs and exposes the serious breach in keeping tabulations of 2009 Lok Sabha election results well before the official date of declaration of results.

Prof. Alex Halderman underscores the dangers inherent in Electronic Voting and explains that the review of the deficiencies of the e-voting provides an opportunity to save preserve democratic processes.

Senior Advocates, Roxna Swamy and Ajay Jagga review and establish the fact that Indian EVMs do not meet the constitutional and legal requirements.

IT Expert Dr. TH Chowdary reviews the international experience of electronic and internet voting and cautions India on the dangers of adopting non-verifiable systems.

IT Expert Shri N. Ramesh shows a reality check on tamperability of EVMs in the context of International Standards.

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