1. The Election Commission has
observed that after declaration of result of the recently held General
Elections to the State Legislative Assemblies of Goa, Manipur, Punjab,
Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, some political parties have raised voice
against the credibility of the ECI-EVMs, alleging tampering of EVMs
during the said elections. One representation was received from National
General Secretary, BSP without any specific allegation on 11.03.2017.
ECI on 11.03.2017 itself has given detailed response to BSP rejecting
the representation. ECI’s reply is available at www.eci.nic.in.
2. Such concerns, about
alleged tamperability of ECI-EVM have been raised earlier also since
their introduction including before HC/SC. These allegations have been
dismissed. ECI unequivocally reiterate that given effective technical
and administrative safeguards, EVMs are not temperable and integrity of
electoral process is preserved.
3. It will be useful to once
again recapture some facts on the subject for information of citizens
and all concerned.
With a view to overcome certain
problems associated with use of ballot papers and taking advantage of
development of technology so that voters cast their votes correctly
without any resultant ambiguity and removing the possibilities of
invalid votes totally, the Commission in December, 1977 mooted the idea
of EVM. The law was amended by the Parliament in December, 1988 and a
new section 61A was inserted in the Representation of the People Act,
1951 empowering the Commission to use voting machines. The amended
provision came into force w.e.f. 15th March,
Central Government appointed the Electoral
Reforms Committee in January, 1990 consisting of representative of
several recognized National and State Parties. The Electoral Reforms
Committee further constituted a technical Expert Committee for the
evaluation of the electronic voting machines. The Committee came to
conclusion that the electronic voting machine is a secure system. The
expert committee, therefore, unanimously recommended in April, 1990 the
use of the electronic voting machines without further loss of time.
5. Since 2000, EVMs have been used in 107 General
Elections to State Legislative Assemblies and 3 General Elections to Lok
Sabha held in 2004, 2009 & 2014.
Pronouncements on use of EVMs-
The issue of possible tampering of EVM has been raised
before various High Courts since 2001 as mentioned below:-
High Court- 2004
High Court (Nagpur Bench)-2004
All the above High Courts after going into
all aspects of the technological soundness and the administrative
measures involved in the use of EVMs at elections in India, have held
that the EVMs in India are credible, reliable and totally tamperproof.
In some of these cases, even Supreme Court has dismissed appeals filed
by some petitioners against High Court orders.
The Hon’ble Karnataka High Court held that “This
invention is undoubtedly a great achievement in the electronic and
computer technology and a national pride”. Both the Karnataka High
Court and the Madras High Court observed that use of EVMs in election
has several advantages over the system of ballot paper/ballot box
election. The Hon’ble Madras High Court also categorically ruled out any
question of tampering of the EVMs. The following observations made by
the Madras High Court may be taken note of.
“There is also no question of introducing any virus or
bugs for the reason that the EVMs cannot be compared to personal
computers. The programming in computers, as suggested, has no bearing
with the EVMs. The computer would have inherent limitations having
connections through Internet and by their very design, they may allow
the alteration of the programme but the EVMs are independent units and
the programme in EVM is entirely a different system.”
In one of the cases, the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala in
its order dated 6.2.2002 had recorded its appreciation on the efficiency
of the mechanism. The judgment of the Kerala High Court in the said
Election Petition was upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Civil
Appeal (AIR 2003 SC 2271).
It is admitted before various courts that the data or
technique brought in use in EVM in India were not subject to piracy as
nobody knows anything about the contents of any type or has any
unauthorized or free access to EVM.
Thereafter, the controversy was raised by political
parties again after 2009 General Elections to House of People stating
that EVMs were not fool proof and provide scope for manipulation.
However, no specific allegation was raised nor could they prove before
any court of law.
Some activists approached
Supreme Court in 2009 which advised them to go to ECI. It was then these
activists opened dialogue and ECI threw open challenge to anyone to
demonstrate how machine owned by ECI can be tempered. However, in spite
of opportunities given by ECI, machines opened and internal components
shown, no one could demonstrate any tempering with the machine in ECI
HQ. There proceedings were videographed.
In an extraordinary measure, the
Commission invited those who had expressed reservations about the
Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) to come and demonstrate the points made
in their allegations from 3rd to 8th August 2009. Those invited included
political parties, petitioners before various courts and some
individuals who had been writing to the Commission on this issue. One
hundred EVMs brought from ten states namely, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi,
Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan,
Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, were kept at the Commission’s office in
readiness for scrutiny and for any application to establish its alleged
fallibility. The EVMs were offered for such demonstration in the
presence of a technical experts group as well as engineers representing
the EVM manufacturers, BEL and ECIL. The outcome of this exercise is
that none of the persons, who were given the opportunity, could actually
demonstrate any tamper ability of the ECI-EVMs. They either failed or
chose not to demonstrate.
Some activists then showed on TV channel a ‘machine’
which they claimed can be manipulated. ECI countered allegation that the
‘machine’ was stolen from EVM warehouse in Mumbai, subjected to changes
by activists and thus it was no longer the ‘machine’ used by ECI.
In 2010, all political parties except a few from Assam
and Tamil Nadu in a meeting convened by ECI expressed satisfaction about
the functioning of EVMs. At this stage, idea of VVPAT was moved for
In 2009, in a case before Delhi High Court,
all earlier allegations about EVM temperabilities were raised. However,
Delhi High Court satisfied with detailed reply of ECI why EVM cannot be
rigged and about ECI efforts on developing VVPAT decided and disposed of
the case in 2012 that VVPAT may be developed early in consultation with
Security of EVMs used by ECI
machine is electronically protected to prevent any
tampering/manipulation. The programme (software) used in these machines
is burnt into a One Time Programmable (OTP)/Masked chip so that it
cannot be altered or tampered with. Further these machines are not
networked either by wire or by wireless to any other machine or system.
Therefore, there is no possibility of its data corruption.
software of EVMs is developed in-house by a selected group of Engineers
in BEL (Defense Ministry PSU) and ECIL (Atomic Energy Ministry’s PSU)
independently from each other. A select software development group of
2-3 engineers designs the source code and this work is not
completion of software design, testing and evaluation of the software is
carried out by an independent testing group as per the software
requirements specifications (SRS). This ensures that the software has
really been written as per the requirements laid down for its intended
successful completion of such evaluation, machine code of the source
programme code is given to the micro controller manufacturer for writing
in the micro controllers. From this machine code, the source code cannot
be read. Source code is never handed over to anyone outside the software
group of PSUs.
controller manufacturer initially provides engineering samples to PSUs
for evaluation. These samples are assembled into the EVM, evaluated and
verified for functionality at great length. Bulk production clearance by
PSU is given to micro controller manufacturer only after successful
completion of this verification.
source code for the EVM is stored under controlled conditions at all
times. Checks and balances are in place to ensure that it is accessible
to authorized personnel only.
production in the factory, functional testing is done by production
group as per the laid down Quality plan and performance test procedures.
software is so designed that it allows a voter to cast the vote only
once. The vote can be recorded by an elector from the ballot unit only
after the Presiding Officer enables the ballot on the Control Unit. The
machine does not receive any signal from outside at any time. The next
vote can be recorded only after the Presiding Officer enables the ballot
on the Control Unit. In between, the machine becomes dead to any signal
from outside (except from the Control Unit).
of EVMs from production batches are regularly checked for functionality
by Quality Assurance Group, which is an independent unit within the
additional features were introduced in 2006 in ECI-EVMs such as dynamic
coding between Ballot Unit
(BU) and Control Unit (CU), installation of real time clock,
installation of full display system and date and time stamping of every
key-pressing in EVM.
Evaluation Committee in 2006 has concluded that any tempering of CU by
coded signals by wireless or outside or Bluetooth or WiFi is ruled out
as CU does not have high frequency receiver and data decoder. CU accepts
only specially encrypted and dynamically coded data from BU. Data from
any outside source cannot be accepted by CU.
Some political parties have stated
that some foreign countries have stopped using EVMs. The Commission has
come across comparisons between ECI-EVM and EVMs used by
foreign countries. Such comparisons are both misplaced and misguided.
ECI EVMs are Stand alone Machine. Therefore ECI-EVMs cannot be compared with
machines of other countries.
of the systems used in other countries are Computer based with internet
connectivity. Hence, these could be vulnerable to hacking.
stated above, the software in the ECI-EVM chip is one time programmable
(OTP) and burnt into the chip at the time of manufacture. Nothing can be
written on the chip after manufacture. Thus the ECI-EVMs are
fundamentally different from the voting machines and processes adopted
in various foreign countries.
surmise based on foreign studies or operating system based EVMs used
elsewhere would be completely erroneous. The ECI-EVMs cannot be compared
with those EVMs.
and Administrative Securities
Commission has put in place an elaborate administrative system of
security measures and procedural checks-and-balances aimed at prevention
of any possible misuse or procedural lapses. These safeguards are
implemented by ECI transparently with the active and documented
involvement of political parties, candidates and their representatives
at every stage to build their confidence on efficacy and reliability of
EVMs. These safeguards are:
every election, a first level checking (FLC) is done for every EVM to be
used in the election by the engineers of the manufacturers in
the presence of political parties’ representatives. Any
malfunctioning EVM is kept separately and is not used in the election.
certify at the time of FLC that all components in the EVM are original.
After this, the plastic cabinet of Control Unit of the EVM is sealed
using a “Pink Paper Seal”, which
is signed by representatives of political parties and
stored in strong rooms. After this stage, the plastic cabinet of control
unit of the EVMs cannot be opened. There is no access to any component
of inside of EVMs.
at the time of FLC, at
least 1000 votes are cast by the representatives of political parties on
5%of EVMs randomly selected by them. A printout of the results of
this mock poll as well as a sequential print out of every vote polled
during the mock poll at the time of First Level Checking of EVMs are
taken out for at least 5% of EVMs and shown to the representatives of
political parties. Representatives of political parties are allowed to
pick machines randomly for this purpose. In rest of the machines,
numbers of votes polled during the mock poll are to the satisfaction of
the representatives of political parties. Representatives
of political parties are allowed to do mock poll themselves. It is
all documented by DEOs/ROs.
stored EVMs are randomized
by computer software twice once for allocation of machines to assembly
constituencies and second to polling stations in the presence of
candidates or their representatives before they are distributed for use
in individual polling stations. Such
lists of EVM containing serial number of EVM allocated to particular
polling station are provided to the political parties/candidates.
and their representatives are allowed to conduct mock polls on EVMs at
the time of candidate setting and also before the actual poll on the
poll day to satisfy themselves about the satisfactory functioning of
EVMs being used.
the candidate setting is done, the Ballot Unit of the EVM is also sealed
with thread/Pink Paper seals so that nobody has access to the inside of
the Ballot Unit too. These Pink seals also bear signatures of
representatives of political parties/candidate.
printout of the results of mock poll as well as a sequential print out
of every vote polled during the mock poll at the time of Preparation of
EVMs and candidate setting are also taken out for at least 5% of EVMs
to the representatives of political parties. Representatives of
political parties are allowed to pick machines randomly for this
the poll day, a mock poll by casting at least 50 votes is conducted at
every polling station in
the presence of the representatives of the candidates/polling agents
with their signature and a mock-poll certificate to that effect is
obtained from every Presiding Officer.
the mock poll is over, another thread seal and green paper seals are put
on the EVM to block access to all buttons on the EVM, except those,
which are used for the conduct of poll. These
paper seals and thread seals are allowed to be signed by the polling
agents. After the poll is
over, the Presiding officer presses the “Close” button on the EVM in the
presence of polling agents. Thereafter, no votes can be polled in the
this, the entire EVM is sealed. Candidates
and their agents are allowed to put their signatures on the seals,
which they can check for the intactness of the seal before counting.
Candidates/representatives travel behind vehicles carrying EVMs from
polling stations to counting storage rooms.
addition to this, the strong rooms where EVMs are stored, for counting
are also sealed and watched round the clock. The
candidates and their representatives are allowed to put their own seals
on the strong rooms. They are also allowed to keep a watch round the
clock on the strong room. Security
forces are deployed in multiple layers around storage rooms.
representatives of candidates of all political parties are given
opportunity to participate in FLC, Preparation of EVMs before poll, mock
VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL (VVPAT)
ECI based on consultation
with political parties in 2010 considered to explore use of Voter
Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) with a view to enhance
transparency. Introduction of VVPAT implied that a paper slip is
generated bearing name and symbol of the candidate along with recording
of vote in Control Unit, so that in case of any dispute, paper slip
could be counted to verify the result being shown on the EVM. Under
VVPAT, a printer is attached to the balloting Unit and kept in the
voting compartment. The paper slip remains visible on VVPAT for 07
seconds through a transparent window. Design of VVPAT made by BEL/ECIL
was approved by ECI in 2013 and shown to persons who were pursuing
matters in the Supreme Court. Rules were amended. ECI used VVPAT in
Nagaland bye election in 2013 which proved great success. SC ordered
introduction of VVPAT in phases and asked Government to sanction funds
In this regard in June
2014, the Commission proposed to implement VVPAT at every polling
station in the next General Election to Lok Sabha due in 2019 and asked
for fund of Rs. 3174 cr from the Government. Hon’ble Supreme Court also
permitted the ECI to implement VVPATs in phase manner.
In an ongoing case in the
Supreme Court, Commission in the month of March 2017, has intimated the
apex court that ECI will get requisite number of VVPATs manufactured in
30 months time from the time of release of fund by the Government.
ECI procured 20,000 VVPATs
in 2013 and has since used VVPATs in 143 Assembly Constituencies.
Further, 33500 VVPATs were manufactured by BEL in 2016 for further use
of VVPATs. So far, VVPATs have been used in 255 Assembly Constituencies
and 09 Parliamentary Constituencies. In Goa elections in 2017, VVPAT was
employed in all 40 LACs. ECI employed about 52,000 VVPATs in five States
where elections were held recently. Since 2014, ECI has been
relentlessly pursuing with the Govt. for sanction and release of funds
of Rs. 3174 cr requisite number of VVPATs so that they could be used in
all PCs in GE to Lok Sabha in 2019.
As explained above, the Commission has
put in place an elaborate technical and administrative system of
safeguards to ensure error-free functioning of EVMs in elections. The
Commission is thus fully satisfied with the tamper proof functioning of
the ECI-EVMs. It may be stated that such allegations and suspicions have
not been raised for the first time. Even on earlier occasions, the
Commission has offered opportunities more than once to those alleging
the tamperability of EVM, no one has been able to demonstrate to the
Commission that the EVM with ECI and used in the country’s election
process, can be manipulated or tampered with. The Commission does not
find any merit in such allegations and reject all such allegations and
suspicions raised by some political parties.
ECI assures all citizens that EVM of
ECI are temper proof and fully satisfied with the integrity of electoral
process using EVM. ECI will further enhance confidence of citizens in
ECI’s electoral process by deploying VVPAT in phase manner.
Further, ECI did not
receive specific complaints or concrete material from political
parties/candidates about alleged tempering of EVMs during recently held
election process. At this stage, baseless, speculative and wild
allegations are being made which deserves to be rejected.
However, if any specific allegation
with material facts is presented to ECI, the same will be looked into
with all seriousness on administrative sides.
The Election Commission would like to
underline that it always had a firm conviction and complete satisfaction
that EVMs could not be tampered with. Its faith on the machine has never
wavered through the conduct of elections in the last many years
including the nationwide general elections in 2004, 2009 and 2014. To
date, no one has been able to actually demonstrate that EVMs used by the
Election Commission can be tampered with or manipulated. What has been
demonstrated or claimed to have been demonstrated is on a privately
assembled “look-alike of ECI-EVMs” and not the actual ECI-EVM. However,
the extraordinary measure of requiring demonstration in ECI HQ in 2009
was undertaken by the Election Commission in fulfilment of its
responsibility not to allow even a small shade of doubt about any aspect
of its operation and in order to set at rest any misgiving anywhere.
Today, the Commission once again
completely reaffirms its faith in the infallibility of the EVMs. These
are fully tamper-proof, as ever.
Election Commission of
New Delhi,16 March, 2017