The Chief Electoral officer Punjab V.K. Singh said today that The Election commission of India has given open Challenge to the National and State Recognized Political Parties only which participated in the five States' Assemblies Elections viz. Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Intending to participate may nominate a maximum of 3 persons only to participate in the EVM Challenge. The Political Parties willing to participate in the EVM Challenge must mandatorily confirm their interest to ECI by 5.00 pm on 26th May, 2017 through the email (firstname.lastname@example.org), wherein the details of the Nominated members must be furnished as per the prescribed Performa. Only those Political Parties, which respond by 5.00 pm on 26th May, 2017 to the ECI, shall be allowed to participate in the EVM Challenge.In a press communiqué released here CEO Punjab said that there are no possibilities of manipulation in EVM during transportation or at the place of storage. At the district headquarters, EVMs are kept in a double-lock system under appropriate security. Their safety is periodically checked. The election authorities do not open the strong room, and they only regularly check whether it’s fully protected and whether the lock is in proper condition or not. No Unauthorized person can get access to the EVMs at any point of time. During the non-election period, annual physical verification of all EVMs is done by DEOs and report sent to ECI. Further, strong rooms are always opened in the presence of representative of political parties.
He further said that the latest technological features make ECI-EVMs tamper proof. The ECI-EVMs use some of the most sophisticated technological features like one time programmable (OTP) microcontrollers, dynamic coding of key codes, date and time stamping of each and every key press, advanced encryption technology and EVM-tracking software to handle EVM logistics, among others to make the machine 100% tamper proof. In addition to these, new model M3 EVMs also have tamper detection and self-diagnostics as added features.OTP software implies that the programme in the EVM cannot be altered, re-written or re-read by anyone under safe custody of ECI. This makes EVM tamper proof. If anyone makes an unauthorized attempt, the machine will become in-operative and these are produced indigenously by two PSU manufacturers viz. Bharat Electronics Ltd., Bengaluru and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd., Hyderabad. The Software Program Code is written in-house by these two companies and not outsourced and approved by TEC of ECI and subjected to strict security procedures at factory level to maintain the highest levels of integrity.
Mr. Singh said a group of thirteen political parties met the Commission on 10th April, 2017 and expressed certain reservations about the use of EVMs. Some political parties also raised queries about incidents relating to VVPATs used on 31/3/17 during demonstration (NOT in actual poll) at Bhind (M.P) and Dholpur (Rajasthan) Bye-elections held in the first week of April, 2017. In the meeting the Commission decided that all future elections will be mandatorily held with VVPATs to bring utmost transparency and credibility in the EVM-based voting system. ECI- EVMs are not hackable as these, are stand alone machines and not connected to the internet and /or any other network at any point of time during polling. Hence, there is no chance of hacking.The ECI-EVMs do not have any frequency receiver or data decoder for wireless and hence cannot receive any coded signal by wireless. Hence, no tampering can be carried out through external hardware Wireless, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth device. Moreover, machines are always in the custody of ECI and its election authorities.
He said EVMs introduced in 90’s was a positive electoral reform by the Commission. Some doubts have been raised on the functioning of the EVMs from time to time and from some quarters. After the announcement of the results of the five State Assembly Elections (UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur), in March 2017, again certain doubts were raised on the functioning of EVMs. Some complaints and suggestions were received by Commission after declaration of results of five State Assembly elections. The Commission duly examined these complaints and asked for evidence and credible material information supporting the claims, but so far no evidence has been provided by complainants to ECI.Mr. VK Singh said that the Commission has taken the pioneering initiative of introducing Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) for recording, storing and counting of votes across the length and breadth of this country in a transparent, credible and secure manner, duly backed by appropriate legal support. The commission conducted many elections of State and lok Sabha elections in two decades and since September 2013, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines have also been used in various State Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies to enhance transparency and credibility in the voting process.He said Election Commission of India is globally acknowledged as a ''Gold Standard'' in conduct of free and fair elections with impaccable integrity. It has set high standards of efficient, smooth and professional conduct of Elections and has been at the forefront of embracing, adopting and implementing the latest technological advancements in improving and fine-tuning the election processes and systems.