Congress urges EC for relaxation in EVM hackathon rules

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday said the terms and conditions attached by the Election Commission to an EVM hackathon from June 3 were a “barrier to a thorough test” of the voting machines and called for relaxations in three such rules for the challenge.

In a letter to the Election Commission, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said the challengers should be allowed access to all the components of an Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), including the motherboard.

“The extensive terms and conditions that this challenge imposes prevent challengers to conduct a thorough test on the EVMs. We urge you to reconsider relaxing the three rules, as their inclusion undermines the very credibility of this initiative,” said Surjewala.

The Congress sought relaxation of the conditions that challengers would get access only to the control unit (CU) and ballot unit (BU) of an EVM, that challengers would be allowed only to press buttons; and tampering would be demonstrated only when EVMs are in strong rooms/counting booths.

“The EVM is composed of more components, apart from the CU and BU. If challengers don’t have access to all the components, such as motherboard, how will they demonstrate their concerns?” asked the Congress leader.

“The EC must factor in the possibility that those who try to or tamper with EVMs in real life can do so without pressing the buttons on the CU or BU or do it before/after the EVMs are in the control room,” he said.

Surjewala said it was imperative that a challenge of this magnitude simulated real life conditions as much as possible and the design of the challenge must not prevent those who he said can demonstrate hacking.

Observing that a “fair challenge” will send a strong signal to the people about the credibility of EVMs, Surjewala urged the commission to revise the conditions.

The Election Commission on Thursday turned down the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) similar demand to reconsider the terms and conditions of the challenge, prompting the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit to announce it will not participate in the challenge.

The Election Commission this month announced the challenge from June 3 to prove that its EVMs cannot be tampered with or hacked and came out with conditions under which this will be done.

The challenge follows allegations by the AAP and other opposition parties of EVM-hacking during the February-March assembly elections and the Delhi civic election to benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party.