The EVM ‘Hackathons’ That Weren’t: Read In Points

Two well-advertised "hackathons" today for parties to prove allegations that EVMs or Electronic Voting Machines can be rigged produced no big revelation and fell short of the hype. The Election Commission's challenge ended up being an extended demo for the two parties that participated in it. Declaring it a flop show, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), appeared to revise its own programme. The party declared that what was widely reported as its "counter-hackathon" today was only the launch.

 

 

 

Here are the 10 latest developments in this story:

 

 

  • The Nationalist Congress Party and the CPM - the only parties to applyfor the challenge - were given a demo of the EVMs and the VVPAT or voter-verifiable paper audit trail-equipped machines, which produce a paper receipt of the voter's choice for proof.

 

  • Election Commission officials said no tampering took place. The parties "only wanted to understand the functionality of EVMs and discuss and understand the technical aspects of the machines," they said. They were shown various security features of the EVMs in the closed-door exercise.

 

  • For the challenge, the election body had brought in 14 randomly selected, sealed EVMs from a dozen constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

 

  • Four hours were allotted for hackers to try their hand at tampering with four machines each to try and prove that the machines used in the five state polls held recently were manipulated before or on the day of voting. None took the challenge.

 

  • The participant would be considered "failed" if the EVM stopped functioning as a result of its inbuilt defense mechanism against tampering, the Election Commission had said.

 

  • Election Commission has asserted that its event is a "challenge" and not a hackathon. The participants can "physically examine" EVMs and check circuits, chips and motherboard, but cannot replace any part.

 

  • AAP, which has been most aggressive in alleging EVM tampering, chose not to participate in the Election Commission's challenge, calling it a fake exercise in which participants were not allowed to access the machine.

 

  • "The Election Commission challenge has flopped," said AAP's Saurabh Bhardwaj, who had held a demonstration in the Delhi Assembly with an EVM prototype.

 

  • AAP had announced its own parallel hackathon with prototypes of the EVM, asserting that it wants to prove the machines can be gamed. It invited parties, people and even Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi to take a shot.

 

  • But Mr Kejriwal's party said it was only launching registrations today for the hackathon to be held on a different day and there was "confusion" among those who thought otherwise. They denied that they had changed their plans because of a perceived lack of response to their invite.

 

 

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