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OPINION | EVMs: FREE, FAIR AND FAST POLLING

To me, the entire EVM issue is one in which one goes on raising doubts and questions, and telling lies, and the sole objective seems to create doubts in the minds of people. The funny part here is, that Elon Musk raised questions about EVMs being used in a primary election in Puerto Rico, USA.

Written By: Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive New Delhi Updated on: June 19, 2024 6:10 IST
India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma
Image Source : INDIA TV India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma

The electronic voting machine issue has been raised again, two weeks after the announcement of Lok Sabha election results by the opposition. It is based on a tweet by Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. In a post on his social media platform X, Musk wrote: "We should eliminate electronic voting machines. The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high." Musk was reacting to alleged irregularities discovered in EVMs during the primary elections in Puerto Rico. He was reacting to a tweet by Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an independent candidate in US presidential elections, in which Kennedy had referred to irregularities in EVMs. Kennedy Jr wrote: "Puerto Rico's primary elections just experienced hundreds of voting irregularities related to electronic voting machines, according to the Associated Press.

Luckily, there was a paper trail so the problem was identified and vote tallies corrected. What happens in jurisdictions, where there is no paper trail? US citizens need to know that every one of their votes was counted and that their elections cannot be hacked. We need to return to paper ballots to avoid electronic interference with elections. My administration will require paper ballots and we will guarantee honest and fair elections." Elon Musk's reaction to Kennedy Jr. did not raise a storm in the USA, but it did in India. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi described EVM as a 'black box', and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav demanded the re-introduction of the ballot paper system.

Rahul Gandhi wrote on X: "When democratic institutions are captured, the only safeguard lies in electoral processes that are transparent to the public. EVM is currently a black box. EC must either ensure complete transparency of the machines and processes or abolish them." BJP leader and former Minister of State for Electronics, Rajeev Chandrasekhar reacted saying, Elon Musk's suggestion about all EVMs being hackable is factually wrong. He said, "To claim that there cannot be a secure digital product in the world is to then say that every Tesla car can be hacked....A calculator or a toaster cannot be hacked. There is a limit in terms of where this paradigm of hacking can extend. Elon Musk does not understand what the Indian EVM is. Indian EVM does not lend itself to be hacked because it is precisely a very limited intelligence device."

Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, one can explain this to Elon Musk, but it is impossible to explain this to Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders, who consider themselves as technical experts. Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, the opposition has been raising the EVM issue for last several years, but neither the BJP nor the Election Commission is ready to discuss it. Khera said, "now that Elon Musk has questioned the EVM, the entire government is now trying to defend. This means, there is something doubtful (daal mein kaala)." Janata Dal-U leader K C Tyagi said, LS election results came on June 4, but the opposition did not speak a word about EVM for 13 days, but now they are trying to find faults in the machine and creating doubts about the results. Congress leader Nana Patole said, there are 165 LS seats, where the winner's margin was barely between 200 and 2,000. He said, people have lost confidence in EVMs and ECI should now reintroduce the ballot paper system.

To me, the entire EVM issue is one in which one goes on raising doubts and questions, and telling lies, and the sole objective seems to create doubts in the minds of people. The funny part here is, that Elon Musk raised questions about EVMs being used in a primary election in Puerto Rico, USA. He did not speak of any other country, but our leaders have jumped into the fray. The Supreme Court has already observed that the ECI has given proofs more than a hundred times to explain the working of EVMs, and yet some leaders are raising doubts. Rahul Gandhi won from two LS constituencies on the basis of the same EVMs. These were the EVMs which reduced BJP's Lok Sabha tally, and yet the parties that won scores of seats are not ready to accept the EVMs. They are unwilling to listen to ECI's explanations. Look at the line of thinking of the anti-Modi front. In Maharashtra, the opposition front lost one LS seat, and alleged that the entire EVM system was faulty, it was a fraud on the electorate, and the Election Commission is biased. This exposes nothing but a negative mindset. If any candidate thinks he has been cheated, he can go to court for relief and file an election petition.

As far as EVMs are concerned, there is a vast difference between Indian EVMs and the machines used in other countries. We should be proud of our electoral process. EVM is a shining symbol of the efficacy and transparency of our electoral system. It will not be good to lay blame at the doors of EVM, because of remarks on social media. Nowadays, hit-and-run tactics appear to be the norm on social media. One attacks an institution or a system by peddling half-truths and decamps, and it is left to the institution to explain the truth. It is a good thing that courts are now taking cognisance of such 'hit-and-run' tactics being used on social media against individuals and institutions.

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