In a series of tweets, on Wednesday, veteran leader Digvijay Singh of the Congress, posted a series of tweets demanding a clarification from the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding concerns raised by former Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer Kannan Gopinathan, about Electronic Voting Machines (EVM).
Singh tweeted, “Kannan Gopinath has made very pertinent points which question the ECI claim of EVM being a ‘Stand Alone Machine’, if it is connected to an external device?” He added “Also ECI has always claimed that EVM has only OTP (One Time Programmable) Chip but there are reports that the Chip used in VVPAT is a MTP (Multiple Programmable) Chip. If so then the message to the Control Unit is what VVPAT gives and not what Ballot Unit gives.”
This was in response to a series of tweets by Kannan Gopinath himself, where he made serious allegations against the ECI. “It was upsetting to see @ECISVEEP & TEC lying through the teeth to the public that EVMs are stand-alone machines designed to connect only among itself. This when they were in full knowledge that it had to be connected to an external device for symbol loading,” Gopinathan had tweeted.
Gopinathan had raised similar concerns on January 25, while speaking at a webinar hosted by SabrangIndia titled The EVM Conundrum, to look deeper into various concerns raised by a variety of stakeholders. Gopinathan had then said, “I used to defend EVM saying they are candidate agnostic and secondly, they are not connected to anything else. But it was during the training related to EVMs before the 2019 elections that I noticed for the first time, the machine was connected to another device.” He explained his apprehensions saying, “Earlier the machine could only see candidate 1, candidate 2 without knowing the name or party of the candidate. But with VVPATs, now that identification became possible and that raised concerns.”
Now, Gopinathan has offered a possible solution to the ECI. “As an immediate suggestion @ECISVEEP , for upcoming elections, don’t do the 2nd randomisation of EVMs (assigning EVMs to booths) before the commissioning/uploading of symbols to VVPAT. Do it after. This will at the least close a window of targeted booth level manipulation,” he tweeted. He also suggested, “Till the design/process vulnerabilities in EVM-VVPAT is addressed, go ahead and do a 100% tallying of VVPAT slips with CU,” and “Immediately amend the rule that puts the threat of fine and prosecution on a test vote going wrong. It is her vote. Voter shouldn’t feel intimidated,” adding that these three changes “do not require any design changes to EVM-VVPAT. These are only administrative changes and can be immediately implemented.”