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CPM sees red over EVMs at meeting with Election Commission

Source: PTI
September 07, 2009 16:20 IST
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The Communist Party of India-Marxist on Monday asked the Election Commission to convene an all-party meeting to allay their apprehensions about the reliability of electronic voting machines.

The demand was made at a two-hour long meeting top CPM leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury had with the Commission in the presence of experts and engineers from both sides, including those from public sector firms Electronics Corporation of India Limited and Bharat Electronics Limited, which produce the EVMs.

"The EC has taken note of all doubts expressed by us and said they will consider the suggestions we have made," said Yechury after the meeting.

The CPM leaders also urged the EC to convene an all-party meeting "to allay the fears and ensure that the credibility of the election process is not questioned," Karat said.

A very detailed examination of the machines was carried out in which the CPM raised issues concerning the reliability of the EVMs, including the possibility of incorporating 'Trojan horse' virus into the EVM chip.

They also raised the possibility of manipulating the chips during manufacturing, insertion and transportation stages and alleged there was "lack of control" by the EC over the entire technical process of the EVMs.

A hue and cry was raised three months ago when former Delhi chief secretary Omesh Saigal claimed the EVMs were not tamper-proof. Several prominent politicians including L K Advani, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan too raised the issue.

The EC had then rejected the contention regarding fallibility of the EVMs, but later decided to invite all those who had expressed reservations "to come and demonstrate the points made in their allegations".

The CPM, which had written to the EC on the issue, also questioned the lack of third-party check, inspection or guarantee on the programming of the chips and pointed out that certain Western countries, especially in Europe, have banned the usage of EVMs, party sources said.

The party suggested that the entire manufacturing process has to be done under the control of the EC and for this, an exclusive technical department needed to be established.

Maintaining that both hardware and software of the EVMs should be in the public domain, the CPM said all the machines should be randomly changed between states in every election.

Chips manufactured by BEL and ECIL should be allowed for yearly random third-party inspections either by hte National Informatics Centre or the IITs and a verification tool should be developed and made available to all, the party told the EC at the meeting.

Earlier, in his letter to the EC, Karat had said, 'Amongst the concerns are the possibility of tampering with the programmed chip embedded in the EVMs and further the lack of any verifiable record of the vote cast by a voter.'
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