I am writing this blog to protect the faith of voters in free and fair poll process and safeguard our roots of democratic elections in long term. I am writing this blog for common man who is mostly non technical and has lesser knowledge of EVM functioning and the layers of technical securities that takes a EVM to a polling booth for free and fair polling process. I want to expose the ones who have started mischief by creating doubts in the minds of common man that EVMs are rigged.
Here is my open challenge to Arvind Kejriwal, Mayawati & Indian National Congress leaders or anyone who alleges EVMs being rigged or tempered.
With the results of 5 assembly polls just out, there has been a lot of hue and cry about the EVMs being tempered or rigged and these allegations are not new to Indian political setup. The most surprising thing that made me write this piece today is the fact, that, this time around leaders of a few political parties have alleged this. Today, I will try to bring to a common man’s knowledge how these allegations are not only baseless but also why they are being made. I am writing today to expose the political mathematics behind such baseless sensational claims by not having a counter claim but by technical aspects. I will expose these claims by explaining how the EVM is protected by layers of high securities making it nearly impossible to breach with only one exception which I will write at the end of the blog
Know your EVM
EVM or Electronic Voting Machine consists of two parts: 1. The CU or the Control Unit and 2. The BU or the Ballot Unit. (An VVPAT is the latest addition to EVM.) The CU is under the control of Polling Booth Officials who grant permission to the voter to register his/her vote while the BU is placed in a voting compartment in such a way that when the voter registers his/her vote, privacy and secrecy is maintained. (The BU is covered by a three wall structure mostly made up of cardboard.) Both the CU and the BU are connected via a flexible interconnecting cable. There are two PSU companies that manufacture EVMS. The first one is BEL and the second one is ECIL. Each CU and BU have Unique ID or in more technical words its like having a serial number.
Nonsense lies spread by some political parties and leaders:
For fair and transparent conduct of polls, its necessary that the authorities take enough precautions so that possibilities of manipulating technological loop holes are brought to almost zero. Here the Election Commission of India has done a wonderful job by applying manual security layers for free and fair conduct of any polls that use EVMs in India.
I will take you through all the procedures that are mandatory before an EVM reaches its destination i.e. a polling booth so that the clouds of doubts that are casted by the likes of an IRS (shameful that an ex IRS can talk of going back to old age polling method using ballots, which was highly manipulative and very prone to act like booth capturing, manipulations during counting of votes etc) Arvind Kejriwal or the likes of Mayawati both of whom happen to be head of their respective parties i.e. AAP and BSP and some section of INC mouthpieces who have been continuously blabbering without connecting their tongues to their brains just for cheap politics. They allege that the EVMs in UP & Punjab (only UP & Punjab not in Delhi in 2014, not in Manipur, Goa, Uttarakhand in 2017) were either rigged or tempered.
I am surprised by such nonsense and would draw the attention of Hon’ble Supreme Court and Election Commission of India to take a Suo Moto note of these baseless allegations and issue an show cause notice to these leaders who are playing with innocent non technical mindsets of common voters which is very very dangerous for restoring faith in democratic free and fair elections, which actually the case is and these people have created doubts which need to be addressed technically. So here we go.
How does an EVM reach a Polling Booth? Any checks done before?
Yes, and this is the core answer to rub off all the allegations. Here lies all the answers to clear anyone’s doubt if they have shaken their brains due to allegations by people like Arvind Kejriwal who happens to be an Ex IT official and an IRS who is assumed to have education of highest order and when a highly educated person like him alleges, it creates more doubt in the minds of a common man. This is how politics is being played out with a single motive to start the age old Ballot paper voting for easy manipulations. I will now take you to the inroads of political brains like Arvind Kejriwal, Mayawati and people like Tehseen Poonawala who have played mischief by their allegations.
So whenever there is an Parliamentary or Assembly poll about to happen, it needs EVMs for the polls to be conducted. So from where do these EVMs reach the concerned constituency? Every district has an DEO or District Election Officer who is in charge of all the EVM requirements of the total constituencies in his district that are going to poll. The DEO office gets EVMs from different places as per his requirements placed to Election Commission which in turn directs the DEO to collect the required number of EVMs from probably different constituencies or districts where the EVMs are available.
After receiving the EVMs, an FLC or First Level Checking of EVMs is done by the DEO office. They make sure that the received EVM sets are all in working condition by checking all the 16 candidate buttons available on BU and if any BU is found faulty it is separated during this check. There are Engineers from either ECIL or BEL too while this long procedure is done. This procedure can be very time consuming, generally anywhere between 3-5 days. This procedure is never done in any kind of rush as every EVM is verified for proper functioning and registration of votes are verified too.
Then there is a very interesting thing that happens at DEO level. These EVMs are randomized. No constituency can know which particular set of EVMs will they receive. Why is this interesting? Now look at this scenario: There are say 5 constituencies in one district where polls are going to take place. The Ballot Unit contains names and symbols of Contestants. Are these names fixed in order of parties? For ex if one thinks National Parties 1st followed by regional and then independents? The answer is a big “NO”. The sequence of names of contestants are decided by alphabetical order according to that mentioned in the contestant’s nomination form. So say a party named “XYZ” is contesting in all 5 constituencies, there is no possibility that all the constituencies will have its contestant on one particular number, say on top or on 4th or on last option. So how can anyone manipulate that pressing any button, the vote will be registered to only one party? The EVM does not understand your name or mine which is written on the paper against every button. It just understands two things: Either 1 or 0. This is a game of binaries. Every EVM has an micro controller which is programmed. This program is stored in an ROM which cant be erased or reprogrammed by a layman using an keyboard and a mouse. This isn’t something one sees in an Hindi Film that a person wearing glasses is shown genius pressing few keys and decoding the code lolz. No one can tell you which EVM your constituency is going to get and which to set accordingly, for the reasons I will focus on later in this blog.
After the randomisation, these EVMs are distributed to the constituencies. Every constituency has an RO or Returning Officer who has an ARO or Assistant Returning Officer to assist him. The RO then conducts another check of the received EVMs. Now, during this check, all the parties are pre intimated about the date, time and venue of the said checking. The parties or the contestants are intimated to send their representatives witness the checking of EVMs.
10% of total EVMs received by the constituency are randomly picked and brought on tables placed in a Hall to be checked. A polling booth may have averagely 800 voters. So what happens during this check? 1000 votes are registered in the name of 16 dummy candidates assigned fully on the options available on the BU. Yes, you read it right, 1000 (One Thousand) votes. this is a tiresome exercise but the hundreds of Election duty staff belonging to various Government Departments along with the representatives of political parties and candidates go through this exercise. The votes are noted while registering. And after 1000 votes, the results are displayed to the representatives or candidates present during the exercise. Isn’t picking 10% random EVMs proof of transperency? Registering 1000 votes in your own presence is illusion? This is just not a exercise which is a formality, because the representatives sign only because they are satisfied about the conduct of the exercise and the results are fair as seen practically by their own eyes.
Ok, the security layer does not end here. The poll day and the counting of votes are both just one day event but it takes over a month or two to make those days fair and transparent with the only motto of giving justice to democratic setup.
Now, only after people who withdraw, people who get disqualified on technical grounds during the scrutiny of nomination papers, people who do not get A and B form from their parties are the final contestants known. So again, till this stage even if anyone wishes to rig the whole set of EVMs it would be more stupid thing than the tales of Shekhchilli. So till this point there is absolutely no chance of rigging any EVM and neither would any notorious element even dare to put axe on his own legs.
So is rigging or tempering possible after nominations are finalised? Absolutely no. Why? Please bear me for this long blog, But I am writing it to spread the knowledge and truth, for the future of our faith in our administration. These allegations have insulted thousands of polling personnel appointed for Election duty who leave their old parents, their new born babies at home just to give best to the country. It may not be seen to a common voter what kind of duty these election personnel do or the sacrifices involved but they do it with pride and in most sincere fashion.
There are many types of seals available in today’s world, but the ECI has stick to using Paper Seals. One would say how cheap but if one thinks beyond this logic, its brilliance. Cheap things, easy to break or tear are the real safeguards. The EVMs are sealed using paper seals and paper is very easily tear able so if any attempt to break the seal will result in what? Proof of tempering! And who signs on these seals? That’s a wow thing to know. Now when you read this you will feel like suing all the political leaders who alleged EVM tempering.
I will take you to what happens on poll day to cut short this EVMopedia. Generally polling now a days starts at 8am in the morning. So an hour before the poll, all the Political Parties and Contestants are pre informed to assign a polling agent at each polling booth and they are expected to be present at least an hour before the actual polling starts. On any polling booth a voter will find few polling officers. Who are they? A presiding officer along with 3-4 Polling Officers and a peon. Everyone is assigned a duty like matching the names of voters, identifying, applying indelible ink on voter’s finger, operating the CU to grant permission to vote to the eligible voter etc. These polling personnel reach the polling station one day prior to the poll day. Why? For variety of reasons and duties. They need to setup the polling booth which are generally located at ZP or Government run schools. They need to clean the premises, they need to setup the voting compartment, they need to remove any photos or banners which represent any political leader or party that can influence the mindsets of a voter for free and fair conduct of the polls.
On the poll day, an hour before the actual poll starts, it is mandatory for the the PRO or the Presiding Officer to conduct a mock poll. A mock poll is nothing but a trial voting. This mock poll is conducted in presence of the polling agents (representatives of political parties) who are allowed to cast votes upto their satisfaction. All can vote for any contestant and as many votes as he may wish to within the stipulated time frame. After the votes are cast and are manually noted by the polling agents, the result of EVMs are displayed to everyone present. This again proves transparency of EVMs and the strength of security layer of ECI process to polls. So what happens to these votes ? are they stored in the EVM? Can they be held responsible for the outcome? NO. Why ? After the completion of Mock Poll, the EVM memory is cleared by pressing the Clear Button available on CU. Then the polling agents are again showed that against every contestants the total recorded vote count is 0 (Zero) after verification the polling agents issue a signed mock poll certificate which itself is the proof that till 7.30 am or so there was nothing to claim that the EVM was behaving in manipulated manner, after this the EVMs are again sealed. The result section of the EVM & the Clear section is sealed with signs of the present polling agents over the paper seal. (Remember this point) And this assures that the EVM is ready to go to poll.
Hush! Such a long process in which I have not mentioned many more layers of securities as it would make this look like a book and not a blog. Now the sealing of EVM usually takes upto 10-15 minutes because it is a process where paper is involved and responsibility is at stake. So there are approximately 15 minutes available for the people who claim rigging off EVMs to stand by their allegations. So what can happen in these 15 minutes? Absolutely nothing. Its their bad luck. Why? How do you program an sealed machine? How do you program an EVM in front of representatives from all political parties? How do you program an EVM where there are 4-5 polling personnel who may have their own choice of political party as an voter themselves and which is an unknown risk to everybody? And How do you program an EVM without an EPROM programmer? And how do you program hundreds of EVMs at the same time throughout the constituency and thousands throughout the state and lakhs of EVMs throughout the country within 15 minutes? And how do you imagine to carry out such a huge task with a machine which is not connected to any internet network or any LAN type or WAN type connection? A machine which doesn’t support WiFi technology. A machine which does not support any external programming. How? Arvind Kejriwal, Mayawati, Congress leaders, Akhilesh Yadav like people need to answer this. How?
Now after the poll is closed in the evening, the machine displays the total number of votes recorded and during the poll hours, the PRO has to send the total voting on his poll booth every two hours. He has been given a PRO diary which he needs to fill and sign, a 17C form, a 17A form, these all things contain the total number of votes registered, male/famale votes, the challenged votes, the proxy votes etc etc. The machine too displays the total number of recorded votes. So what is expected is on the counting day? The details of votes mentioned in the PRO’s documents which also includes the serial numbers of the CU and BU should match the tally of votes registered against each candidate.
The moral of the story is, a fantasy league is being played out in the political circle. Now you have a party in the center who was also governing in states like Punjab and Goa and if at all there was any notorious thing to be done possibly these were the most comfortable states where they themselves were in power and it would be termed daring of highest order to go and play naughty games in the den of an opposition ruled state like Uttar Pradesh. Only a fool of highest order would do it.
I still remember the era of 80s and 90s where capturing polling booths was a common phenomenon. Since the inception of EVMs the goons have lost their game. What do you do with an EVM captured? The lack of technical knowledge comes into play and they find themselves helpless so in over a decade and a half or so one has never learnt that a booth was captured. This is haunting the ones greedy of power a lot. They always come up with such half baked theories.
Technology can be hacked, not the process. I may know riding a bike, but to take control over your bike either you need to hand me over the keys of your bike or I need to break the lock. This is as simple as that. I am not handing over you the EVM and the process is a multi level secured one where you may only end up being an Abhimanyu and not a Chanakya. People talking about hardware being replaced (by breaking the seals signed by their polling agents, haha!), only one mock poll shows correct poll (two mock polls already conducted, 1st during 1000 votes and second on pol day) results and then the EVM starts manipulating votes should spare themselves because I have not gone into more technical details regarding the Electronics Hardware and the Software part to save them from the curse of millions of people who will by now be knowing the real truth. If this was not enough, I have not even mentioned any word about the strong room, PRO Diary, 17a and 17C forms, security arrangements of Strong Room, EVM preservation after results, keeping the results saved for specified number of days after the results to further save these thugs because the length of this blog is preventing me to further write anything. But I will come up with chapter wise details very soon so that people can read only what they want to know and with less length.
So I said in the start that there is only one way, assume that all the authorities right from Election Commission, to the State Commission to the DEO to the RO to the Hundreds of Polling personnels to the thousands of PROs and POs who are assigned duties along with thousands of Polling agents of rest of the parties are corrupt and are manipulated by one party which wants to win!
I urge every reader to forward this to as many friends as possible whose faith in free and fair conduct of polls have taken a beating. I think sharing knowledge is the real tool to destroy the monsters who are trying hard to shake your beliefs from the truth and are roaming in public as if they are the crusaders of anti corruption struggle while their allegations itself reveals how ugly the motives can be which would support a prone to manipulation system like ballot voting just to hide their failure and grab the chairs with the myth of swords and guns as in past.
Jai Hind! Long live the fantasy of losers who were comfortable with ballot paper manipulations. And still if you so called educated leaders have any doubts, I will give you a simple solution, read the only way possible of rigging an EVM and thoroughly scrutinize the polling agents you people appointed. They need to answer a lot because they have been witness to the FLC, the SLC the Mock Polls, they have signed the certificate, they have signed on the seal, etc.
I hope my dear friends, now you all will start cross questioning these liars.