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Dear AAP, if EVM can be rigged, so can be the VVPAT machine. What next?

If your vehicle’s brake fails, what would you do? Try to reduce speed somehow, minimize risk and reach home safely. Or go faster so that you reach home before accident takes place?

The Aam Aadmi Party has faced few very serious electoral setbacks recently and are in the middle of a crisis. One would expect them to choose option one i.e. go back to drawing board and regroup. But they chose option two and started casting doubts on EVM after loss in Punjab and Goa.

Following embarrassing defeats in Rajouri Garden by-polls and MCD elections, they escalated the offensive. During the live demo of ‘Toy EVM’ in Delhi Assembly, AAP has gone to an extent of saying that EC is hand in glove with BJP. Therefore even EC cannot be trusted with conducting election.

AAP has come up with crazy theories to show how EVM can be hacked, I wonder what makes them believe that VVPAT will not be susceptible to hacking? If a determined hacker can rig EVM why can’t they do the same to a VVPAT machine?

If someone can change motherboard of lakhs of EVMs, why can’t the printer of VVPAT machine be rigged (reprogrammed)? Just write a program that forces VVPAT to show a dummy slip to user but in reality it generates rigged slip and drops in the attached box. Done!

Maybe I have given AAP supporters the idea to indulge in the next level of conspiracy theory when they lose the next elections. Or maybe they can take a break and reflect on a few things.

There are three aspects of any system; People, Process and Technology. Together they complement to build a system that functions properly. With complete disregard for the security controls and processes built around polling process, AAP has targeted the technology and people.

They have built their narrative around the fact that EVM is a machine that runs on software, therefore it can be hacked by people. As a remedy, they are gunning for introduction of another machine (which by the same logic should be equally vulnerable for hacking). If I can go as crazy as AAP supporters, I can also argue that the same people who were replacing motherboard of EVM, will now come armed with motherboard of EVM and chip of VVPAT. You don’t solve one problem only to create another one.

Where does this craziness stop? AAP’s current position is that they will not accept any other than either going back to paper ballot or 100% VVPAT integrated EVMs. If we have IITians who claim to know 10 ways to tamper EVM, their friends in Bihar know 100 ways of booth capturing.

VVPAT integration is something EC is already on track to achieve this in 2019 LS elections. Following SC’s direction in 2013, EC decided to implement VVPAT in phases and finish by 2019 LS. In fact, Goa became the first state to deploy 100% EVMs with VVPAT during recently concluded assembly elections where AAP lost deposit in virtually all the seats.

If you are wondering why AAP is going on this path despite knowing that EC is working towards achieving 100% EVMs with VVPAT, answer lies here: When EC comes out with assurance that all EVMs will have VVPAT by 2019 and AAP will claim moral victory for forcing EC to go for VVPAT.

Next, a decision about disqualification of 21 MLAs and the issue of falsification of account books submitted to Income Tax Department will come. AAP is very likely to be found guilty on both the counts. Arvind Kejriwal will play the victim card coming up with arguments like “since we exposed EC and forced them to implement VVPAT, they are taking revenge from us.”

Note: The much talked about Hackathon will not help. EC will ask hackers to operate within the defined security controls (as things happen in real election situation, with all observers and stakeholders keeping watch) and AAP will argue that EC is not giving them the freedom to replace the the EVM’s motherboard and walk out of it.

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