Monday, March 12, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

How to tamper with voting machines!
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Can electronic voting machines (EVMs) be tampered with?

“Yes”, says Mr Amarinder Singh, president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, supporting his assertion by giving a demonstration of how an EVM with a cleverly programmed chip installed in it can transfer votes polled by one candidate to another leaving no remnants of the original voting pattern.

“Convinced that these EVMs can be manipulated, we are going to make a presentation to the Chief Election Commissioner, Dr Manohar Singh Gill, in New Delhi next week and request him to revert to the original system of voting using ballot papers. If the commission does not listen to us, we will have no choice but to knock at the door of the judiciary to get EVMs out of the elections,” asserts Mr Amarinder Singh.

Capt Amarinder Singh demonstrates how a “fudged electronic voting machine” works.
Capt Amarinder Singh demonstrates how a “fudged electronic voting machine” works. — A Tribune photo by Parvesh Chauhan

Mr Amarinder Singh carries a set of EVMs, including the control unit, which during elections remains with the presiding officer of a polling station, and gives a “demonstration of how the programmed chip transfers the votes of one candidate to another”.

“We got suspicious about what we call ‘sophisticated booth capturing’ when we found that there was 129 per cent increase in the votebank of Akalis at Nawanshahr, 100 per cent at Sunam and now 65 per cent at Majitha. The ruling party did well wherever EVMs were used while at other places, we did well. This we did by analysing all elections in the state since 1997,” says the PPCC chief, admitting that “my wife and Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar were elected to the Lok Sabha from constituencies where EVMs were used. But till that time, for the ruling Akali Dal, EVMs were something new and unique.

“But once they put their electronics experts on the job, they could immediately find a solution. Whatever the Election Commission says about EVMs is not true. The mother boards, after being removed from the EVMs, do not crash but work perfectly after being soldered back in the machine. Similarly, wave welding, which the Election Commission maintains is not available in India, is very much available at various places in the country,” asserts the Punjab Congress chief.

“We put our hardware and software experts on the job. They not only came out with different programmed chips but also revealed how these EVMs had been condemned the world over. Many countries, including Germany, France and the UK, had gone back to the conventional ballot paper polling by discarding the EVMs,” he said before giving a demonstration of how an EVM with a programmed chip installed in it “works wonders”.

“A programmed chip will not cost much. It is both timed and programmed to convert the votes polled by one candidate to those of another. It is only the final position that will remain on the hardchip or all three memories, thus leaving no scope for anyone to find out the original pattern of voting,” he says during the demonstration. “Seventeen votes are cast of which three go to candidate number 1, one each to candidates number two and three, 11 to candidate number 5 and one to candidate number 7. And after a while, when the votes are counted, the machine gives 13 votes to candidate number 1 and four to candidate number 2 and nothing to the rest.

“So each machine can be programmed to transfer, say, every third vote polled by the Congress to the Shiromani Akali Dal. In the Chamunda Devi area, which is a traditional Congress stronghold, our candidate lost during the recent Majitha Assembly byelection. This strengthens our conviction that EVMs were programmed.

“Let bygone be bygone. We do not want this ‘sophisticated booth-capturing’ to continue anymore. We do not want EVMs but want that in all future elections in Punjab the conventional ballot paper should be used.

“The EVMs remain in the custody of the government, thus leaving scope for their manipulation. We had requested the Election Commission that if it wants to use EVMs in Majitha, let it bring EVMs from any other state and use them. But our suggestion was turned down and the EVMs already with the election tehsildars in Punjab were used,” he added.


SEBI issues new guidelines

New Delhi, March 11
In the wake of stock market crash and payment crises, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today came out with a set of new guidelines to control the bourses and ensure that payments are settled immediately and investors get their money without any delay.

Under the guidelines coming in the wake of two successive Black Friday crashes after the Union Budget, banks will be allowed to provide collateralised funding in the automated lending borrowing mechanism (ALBM) and Borrowing and Lending of Securities System (BLESS) facilities of the stock exchanges where these facilities are guaranteed by the trade and settlement funds of the Stock exchange or clearing corporation.

Meanwhile, the SEBI chairman D.R. Mehta today had a three-hour meeting with Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha here on the current crisis at stock exchange in the country. Mr Mehta said the discussions with Sinha covered the crisis that had engulfed the Exchanges since March 2.PTI

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