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2 Jun 2017

Vote dare, AAP version

Pheroze L. Vincent, TT, New Delhi, June 1:The Aam Aadmi Party today announced its own EVM "challenge" on June 3 to counter a similar exercise being organised by the Election Commission (EC) the same day.
Saurabh Bharadwaj, the party's Delhi unit secretary who had earlier demonstrated manipulation of an EVM replica in the Delhi Assembly, today said the Saturday event would prove the poll panel's regulations for the challenge are counter-productive and will not help detect tampering.
"We will offer the tampered machine we demonstrated in the Assembly (on May 10). We will call technical experts from across the world - from the EC to EVM manufacturers Electronics Corporation of India Ltd and Bharat Electronics Ltd - for our event which will be bigger and better than the EC's. Our challenge is you won't be able to prove our tampered machine is tampered under the same conditions in which the EC has asked parties to prove," Bharadwaj, an engineer, said.
The poll panel has offered two challenges to parties that participated in the recent Assembly polls. In the first, parties that have claimed the EVMs were tampered with to favour a particular candidate will have to alter the results in exactly the same scenario in which the machines remain after the poll. They will have to prove their claims by either pressing a combination of keys or using an external device - such as wireless, Bluetooth gadgets, cellphones - on the EVMs' control unit (CU) and ballot unit (BU), or both.
The second challenge involves proving that EVMs were tampered with on or before polling day. The participants will have to do so in just the same scenario in which the machines were kept before the polls.
The AAP and the Congress have stayed out of the poll panel's event, objecting to the restrictive manner in which the challenge is being conducted.
Only the NCP and CPM will participate. RJD was disallowed after the overshot the deadline to send in names, by 39 minutes, prompting its spokesman to ask whether "the EC is the custodian of EVMs or democracy?"
Last week, 17 IT professionals and professors from the US, Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai wrote to the EC saying "The safeguards described by the EC cannot completely prevent insiders or criminals from manipulating hardware, or guarantee that such efforts will be detected; a challenge can demonstrate this... "to understand the ability of an insider to manipulate the EVM, the challenge should allow individuals to tamper" with it. "They should be provided design documents, test descriptions and results for each generation of EVM currently in use." NCP MP Vandana Chavan, who will lead her party's delegation to the EC challenge, said: "We agree with what the AAP is claiming but we will be going only to the EC's challenge. It is an academic exercise. If you really want to see if a device can be manipulated, you must be able to take possession and work on it."
The EC has clarified that it will provide 14 EVMs used in the recent Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab polls for the challenge and these have been sealed after counting.
Nilotpal Basu of the CPM said objected to the word "challenge." "This is not a contest between the EC and the parties. We are both stakeholders in strengthening democracy. I do not want to comment on the AAP programme. We are participating in the EC's event as we see it as an opportunity to understand EVMs better."

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