ECI says EVMs are unique, adopts standard procedure

ECI says EVMs are unique, adopts standard procedure

New Delhi, March 14: Election Commission of India has countered the allegations raised by some political parties pointing out that some foreign countries have stopped using EVMs.

It states that it has come across comparisons between ECI-EVM and EVMs used by foreign countries. Such comparisons are both misplaced and misguided. ECI EVMs are Stand alone Machine. Therefore, ECI-EVMs cannot be compared with machines of other countries.

Most of the systems used in other countries are Computer based with internet connectivity. Hence, these could be vulnerable to hacking.

The software in the ECI-EVM chip is one time programmable (OTP) and burnt into the chip at the time of manufacture. Nothing can be written on the chip after manufacture. Thus the ECI-EVMs are fundamentally different from the voting machines and processes adopted in various foreign countries.

Any surmise based on foreign studies or operating system based EVMs used elsewhere would be completely erroneous. The ECI-EVMs cannot be compared with those EVMs.

Election Commission states that  it has put in place an elaborate administrative system of security measures and procedural checks-and-balances aimed at prevention of any possible misuse or procedural lapses. These safeguards are implemented by ECI transparently with the active and documented involvement of political parties, candidates and their representatives at every stage to build their confidence on efficacy and reliability of EVMs.

The modes adopted are before every election, a first level checking (FLC) is done for every EVM to be used in the election by the engineers of the manufacturers in the presence of political parties’ representatives. Any malfunctioning EVM is kept separately and is not used in the election.

Manufacturers certify at the time of FLC that all components in the EVM are original. After this, the plastic cabinet of Control Unit of the EVM is sealed using a “Pink Paper Seal”, which is signed by representatives of political parties and stored in strong rooms. After this stage, the plastic cabinet of control unit of the EVMs cannot be opened. There is no access to any component of inside of EVMs.

Additionally, at the time of FLC, at least 1000 votes are cast by the representatives of political parties on 5%of EVMs randomly selected by them. A printout of the results of this mock poll as well as a sequential print out of every vote polled during the mock poll at the time of First Level Checking of EVMs are taken out for at least 5% of EVMs and shown to the representatives of political parties.

Representatives of political parties are allowed to pick machines randomly for this purpose. In rest of the machines, numbers of votes polled during the mock poll are to the satisfaction of the representatives of political parties. Representatives of political parties are allowed to do mock poll themselves. It is all documented by DEOs/ROs.

Subsequently, stored EVMs are randomized by computer software twice once for allocation of machines to assembly constituencies and second to polling stations in the presence of candidates or their representatives before they are distributed for use in individual polling stations. Such lists of EVM containing serial number of EVM allocated to particular polling station are provided to the political parties/candidates.

Candidates and their representatives are allowed to conduct mock polls on EVMs at the time of candidate setting and also before the actual poll on the poll day to satisfy themselves about the satisfactory functioning of EVMs being used.

Once the candidate setting is done, the Ballot Unit of the EVM is also sealed with thread/Pink Paper seals so that nobody has access to the inside of the Ballot Unit too.  These Pink seals also bear signatures of representatives of political parties/candidate.

A printout of the results of mock poll as well as a sequential print out of every vote polled during the mock poll at the time of Preparation of EVMs and candidate setting are also taken out for at least 5% of EVMs and shown to the representatives of political parties.  Representatives of political parties are allowed to pick machines randomly for this purpose.

On the poll day, a mock poll by casting at least 50 votes is conducted at every polling station in the presence of the representatives of the candidates/polling agents with their signature and a mock-poll certificate to that effect is obtained from every Presiding Officer.

After the mock poll is over, another thread seal and green paper seals are put on the EVM to block access to all buttons on the EVM, except those, which are used for the conduct of poll. These paper seals and thread seals are allowed to be signed by the polling agents. After the poll is over, the Presiding officer presses the “Close” button on the EVM in the presence of polling agents. Thereafter, no votes can be polled in the EVM.

After this, the entire EVM is sealed. Candidates and their agents are allowed to put their signatures on the seals, which they can check for the intactness of the seal before counting. Candidates/representatives travel behind vehicles carrying EVMs from polling stations to counting storage rooms.

In addition to this, the strong rooms where EVMs are stored, for counting are also sealed and watched round the clock. The candidates and their representatives are allowed to put their own seals on the strong rooms. They are also allowed to keep a watch round the clock on the strong room. Security forces are deployed in multiple layers around storage rooms.

The representatives of candidates of all political parties are given opportunity to participate in FLC, Preparation of EVMs before poll, mock poll among other process.

 

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