17 March 2017

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In Depth History Facts about Electronic Voting Machines in India

In Depth History Facts about Electronic Voting Machines in India

Goal of a voting system is to accurately translate voter intent, his wish into a final tally.

What is a Voting Machine?
A voting machine is a machine used to register and tabulate votes. The first voting machines were mechanical but it is increasingly more common to use electronic voting machines. Traditionally, a voting machine has been defined by the mechanism the system uses to cast votes and further categorized by the location where the system tabulates the votes.

Main Types of E-Voting Machines –
1-E-voting which is physically supervised by government appointed poll, election officers.

2- I-voting, Vote from Home – Remote Voting, Internet Voting where the voter votes from home of office without visiting to a polling station.

DRE voting machines which collect and tabulate votes in a single machine, are used by all voters in all elections in Brazil and India, and on a large scale in Venezuela and the United States. They have been used on a large scale in the Netherlands but have been decommissioned after public concerns

Internet voting systems have gained popularity and have been used for government elections and referendums in Estonia and Switzerland as well as municipal elections in Canada and party primary elections in the United States and France

The use of paper ballots dates to Rome in 139 B.C., but the concept didn’t really take off until the mid-1800s.

An election held in Victoria, Australia, using a standardized ballot form featured all the candidates on one ballot and allowed the voters to mark directly on the ballot their choice for office. Appropriately known as the “Australian ballot,” this form of ballot voting didn’t reach the United States until the late-1880s. New York and Massachusetts were the first states to use the Australian ballot.

The first lever voting machine, called the “Myers Automatic Booth,” debuted in Lockport, New York, in 1892.

With mechanical lever voting machines, each candidate or ballot issue is assigned to a lever. The booth has a lever the voter must pull after entering the booth to draw the curtains for privacy. The voter then pulls a lever assigned to his or her desired candidate or ballot issue. The machine records each vote as well as the number of people who voted. When the voter exits the booth by pulling the lever to open the curtain, the levers automatically return to their original positions.

Mechanical lever machines became so popular that by 1930, every major U.S. city used them, and by the 1960s more than half of the country voted by lever. Mechanical lever machines were still used up until the 1996 presidential election. They are no longer made and have since been replaced by computerized voting machines.

In 1875, Henry Spratt of Kent received a U.S. patent for a voting machine that presented the ballot as an array of push buttons, one per candidate.
Spratt's machine was designed for a typical British election with a single plurality race on the ballot.

In 1881, Anthony Beranek of Chicago patented the first voting machine appropriate for use in a general election in the United States.
Beranek's machine presented an array of push buttons to the voter, with one row per office on the ballot, and one column per party. Interlocks behind each row prevented voting for more than one candidate per race, and an interlock with the door of the voting booth reset the machine for the next voter as each voter left the booth.

1996 - First Governmental Election Conducted over the Internet in USA
"The first governmental election to be conducted over the Internet in the US was the 1996 Reform Party Presidential primary, in which Internet voting was offered, along with vote-by-mail and vote-by-phone, as an option to party members who did not attend the party convention."

What is E Voting or Electronic Voting?
Electronic voting (also known as e-voting) is voting using electronic means to either aid or take care of the chores of casting and counting votes.
Electronic voting technology can speed the counting of ballots

July 16, 2004 - Nevada Mandates Voter-Verified Paper Audit (VVPA)

Nevada becomes the first state to mandate that all electronic voting machines used for federal elections be equipped with printers that produce a voter-verified paper audit trail.

India and Electronic Voting Machines –

December 1977 – Election commission of India gave the idea of EVM.
The law was amended by the Parliament in December 1988 and a new section 61A was inserted in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 empowering the Commission to use voting machines. The amended provision came into force w.e.f. 15th March 1989.

Central Government appointed the Electoral Reforms Committee in January 1990
Committee unanimously recommended in April,1990 the use of the electronic voting machines without further loss of time.

Since 2000, EVMs have been used in 107 General Elections to State Legislative Assemblies and three General Elections to Lok Sabha held in 2004, 2009 and 2014

Karnataka High Court and the Madras High Court observed that use of EVMs in election has several advantages over the system of ballot paper/ballot box election.

It is admitted before various courts that the data or technique brought in use in EVM in India were not subject to piracy as nobody knows anything about the contents of any type or has any unauthorized or free access to EVM

As per Election commission of India he machine is electronically protected to prevent any
tampering/manipulation. The programme (software) used in these machines is burnt into a One Time Programmable (OTP)/Masked chip so that it cannot be altered or tampered with. Further these machines are not networked either by wire or by wireless to any other machine or system. Therefore, there is no possibility of its data corruption.

The software of EVMs is developed in-house by a selected group of Engineers in BEL (Defense Ministry PSU) and ECIL (Atomic Energy Ministry’s PSU) independently from each other. A select software development group of 2-3 engineers designs the source code and this work is not subcontracted.

After completion of software design, testing and evaluation of the software is carried out by an independent testing group as per the software requirements specifications (SRS). This ensures that the software has really been written as per the requirements laid down for its intended use only.

After successful completion of such evaluation, machine code of the source programme code is given to the micro controller manufacturer for writing in the micro controllers. From this machine code, the source code cannot be read. Source code is never handed over to anyone outside the software group of PSUs.

Micro controller manufacturer initially provides engineering samples to PSUs for evaluation. These samples are assembled into the EVM, evaluated and verified for functionality at great length. Bulk production clearance by PSU is given to micro controller manufacturer only after successful completion of this verification.

The source code for the EVM is stored under controlled conditions at all times. Checks and balances are in place to ensure that it is accessible to authorized personnel only

The software is so designed that it allows a voter to cast the vote only once. The vote can be recorded by an elector from the ballot unit only after the Presiding Officer enables the ballot on the Control Unit. The machine does not receive any signal from outside at any time. The next vote can be recorded only after the Presiding Officer enables the ballot on the Control Unit. In between, the machine becomes dead to any signal from outside (except from the Control

Certain additional features were introduced in 2006 in ECI-EVMs such as dynamic coding between Ballot Unit (BU) and Control Unit (CU), installation of real time clock, installation of full display system and date and time stamping of every key-pressing in EVM

The ECI-EVMs cannot be compared with those EVMs.

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.

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

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

ECI based on consultation with political parties in 2010 considered to explore use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) with a view to enhance transparency. Introduction of VVPAT implied that a paper slip is generated bearing name and symbol of the candidate along with recording of vote in Control Unit, so that in case of any dispute, paper slip could be counted
to verify the result being shown on the EVM. Under VVPAT, a printer is attached to the balloting Unit and kept in the voting compartment. The paper slip remains visible on VVPAT for 07 seconds through a transparent window
Design of VVPAT made by BEL/ECIL was approved by ECI in 2013 and shown to persons who were pursuing matters in the Supreme Court. Rules were amended. ECI used VVPAT in Nagaland bye election in 2013 which proved great success. SC ordered introduction of VVPAT in phases and asked Government to sanction funds for procurement.
In this regard in June 2014, the Commission proposed to implement VVPAT at every polling station in the next General Election to Lok Sabha due in 2019 and asked for fund of Rs. 3174 cr from the Government. Hon’ble Supreme Court also permitted the ECI to implement VVPATs in phase manner.

In an ongoing case in the Supreme Court, Commission in the month of March 2017, has intimated the apex court that ECI will get requisite number of VVPATs manufactured in 30 months’ time from the time of release of fund by the Government. Since 2014, ECI has been relentlessly pursuing with the Govt. for sanction and release of funds of Rs. 3174 cr requisite number of VVPATs so that they could be used in all PCs in GE to Lok Sabha in 2019.

Problems of EVM Machines –

electronic voting, especially DRE voting, could facilitate electoral fraud and may not be fully auditable.

During the November 2004, General Election in Carteret County, North Carolina electronic voting machines lost 4,438 votes. The manufacturer, Unilect, claimed the machines could store up to 10,500 votes but they actually only held 3,005 votes. Officials were unaware of the problem because the machines kept accepting votes after their memory was full, despite not being able to store them, and those votes were irretrievably lost.

December 2005 - Black Box Voting Demonstrates Hackbility of Electronic Voting Systems
Black Box Voting, Inc. sets up a demonstration in Leon County, Florida in which computer security experts Harri Hursti and Herbert Thompson are able to hack into the central vote tabulator of an electronic voting system and change the outcome of a mock election without leaving any trace of their actions. This exercise is considered to demonstrate that the software running electronic voting systems is vulnerable to tampering.       

May 11, 2006 - Black Box Voting Demonstrates Electronic Voting Machines' "Backdoors"
Black Box Voting, Inc. and computer security specialist Harri Hursti perform a security test on an electronic voting machine delivered to Emery County, Utah. Hursti shows that the machine contains backdoors that allow the software to be modified in several ways, including a type of attack in which the cheating software can be installed months or years before it is executed.
September 13, 2006 - Computer Security Expert Installs Malware on Diebold Electronic Voting Machine in Less than a Minute
Computer security expert Dr. Edward Felten, with the help of graduate students Ariel Feldman and J. Alex Halderman, demonstrates that with less than a minute of physical access to a Diebold electronic voting machine or its PCMCIA memory card, an attacker could install malware that could steal votes while modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent with the fraudulent vote count it creates and could also introduce a voting machine virus that spreads from machine to machine.

September 21, 2006 - Maryland's Governor Urges Voters to Use Absentee Ballots over Electronic Voting Machines –
Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. (R) publicly urges voters to vote by absentee paper ballot instead of using the state's electronic voting machines in the Nov. 2006 General Election after problems with the machines emerged during Maryland's primary. His announcement represents a complete change of opinion about DREs because Maryland had previously been one of the first states to implement electronic voting machines on a statewide basis while Ehrlich was governor in 2002.      

January 2008 - Florida Fair Elections Center Reports over 100,000 Florida Votes Not Counted in Nov. 2006 -
The Florida Fair Elections Center report "Sarasota’s Vanished Votes: An Investigation into the Cause of Uncounted Votes in the 2006 Congressional District 13 Race in Sarasota County, Florida” states that "the iVotronic voting system failed to count over 100,000 votes in various races across the state of Florida in the November 2006 election.”      

2011 - Security Experts Hack Voting Machines by Remote Control –
"Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education, according to computer science and security experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The experts say the newly developed hack could change voting results while leaving absolutely no trace of the manipulation behind...

The team’s video demonstrates how inserting the inexpensive electronic device into the voting machine can offer a 'bad guy' virtually complete control over the machine. A cheap remote control unit can enable access to the voting machine from up to half a mile away."

Hardware –
Hardware can get tempered with and no one will know the changes made.

In Napa County, California, March 2, 2004, an improperly calibrated marksense scanner overlooked 6,692 absentee ballot votes

Omesh Saigal, an IIT alumnus and IAS officer, demonstrated that the 2009 elections in India when Congress Party of India came back to power might be rigged. This forced the election commission to review the current EVMs

India - Some activists showed on TV channel a ‘machine’ which they claimed can be manipulated. ECI countered allegation that the ‘machine’ was stolen from EVM warehouse in Mumbai, subjected to changes by activists and thus it was no longer the ‘machine’ used by Election commission of India.

What Indian Political Parties Need to do?
Stop Complaining, find out Problems and give solutions, demand EVM machines from ECI to study, appoint group of hackers or engineers to find out the problems and solve them.

It is possible to improve the EVM machines but it is not possible to control muscle power of few groups where no one goes to vote but criminals vote on the name of others using power.

Reality views by sm –

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tags – India Election Commission EVM Hack


Jamshed Azmi March 18, 2017  

EVM ki History ki aapne bahut hi achchhi jankar di hea. A Good post for us. Thanks for sharing