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Politicians, journalists, activists and YouTubers attempt to create doubts about EVMs by spreading fake news published by Mid-Day, ECI issues notice to the newspaper

The ECI has confirmed OpIndia's conclusion that it was a simple case of a phone found inside the counting station without authorisation, which Mid-Day twisted to claim that the phone was used to unlock EVMs

After the better-than-expected results secured by opposition parties in the Lok Sabha elections, attacks on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) had almost stopped. However, some sections continued to cast doubt on India’s secure electronic voting system, which has now culminated in mass hysteria against EVMs and the Election Commission of India (ECI), a constitutional body, on 16th June. 

Notably, on Sunday (16th June), Mid-Day published a sensational report that has been found to be grossly misleading and peddling fake news. For this, the ECI has issued a notice to the media outlet for spreading disinformation about EVMs and the electoral process.

The Mid-day report falsely claimed that ‘EVMs can be unlocked by mobile phones using OTP’. Soon after, politicians from the opposition ranks, journalists from the leftist ecosystem, and habitual fake news peddlers started circulating the fake news published by Mid-Day, insinuating electoral fraud without verifying the merits of the claim or the technical details released by the poll body.

Strikingly, the Mid-day report alleged that a relative of newly elected Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Waikar was able to unlock EVMs using a mobile phone. Hours after the misleading report started doing rounds on social media, ECI officials categorically refuted the allegations. Additionally, it has released a press note categorically asserting that EVMs are stand-alone, one-time programmable devices that don’t need OTP. 

The ECI also confirmed OpIndia’s conclusion that it was a simple case of a phone found inside the counting station without authorisation. There was no quote from any police officer talking about any EVM or OTP or unlocking anything. Click here, to read OpIndia’s explanation of how the claims made in the Mid-Day report are fake and baseless.

Opposition leaders, journalists, fake news peddlers create mass hysteria against EVMs based on Mid-day report

Despite several dozen pleas getting rejected in the courts, the opposition which had been notorious for casting aspersions on EVM, the electoral process, and ECI – latched on the Mid-day report to play victim to what they consider to be an Electoral coup d’état. 

From politicians like Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Chaturvedi, and Aditya Thackeray, to journalists and YouTubers like Rajdeep Sardesai, and Dhruv Rathee and usual suspects like Prashant Bhushan added fuel to the fire and furthered the allegations along with sharing the screengrab of the misleading Mid-day report. Additionally, while several usual suspects like Ravish Kumar and Ajit Anjum among others didn’t pen the same allegations, they endorsed them by retweeting or writing loaded, one-sided comments or questions on posts making the same claims.

(Rahul Gandhi circulates Mid-day report which has been found to be grossly misleading and peddling fake news that EVMs can be unlocked by Mobile phone using OTP)

Sharing the misleading Mid-day report, Priyanka Chaturvedi went further to describe it as “the biggest election result scam”.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aditya Thackeray brazens it out by describing the constitutionally established poll body as “entirely compromised” based on fake news about EVMs being unlocked by mobile phone OTPs.

Several units affiliated with the opposition parties like Congress Seva Dal too spread mass hysteria against EVMs.

Congress-friendly journalist Rajdeep Sardesai demanded a “full free and fair Police and EC investigation” on Mid-day report allegations.

Apart from peddling the misleading and fake news by Mid-day, pro-AAP YouTuber Dhruv Rathee went further and demanded a “re-election” in the constituency.

Disgraced Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan peddles the false allegations that the NDA candidate was declared winner after the counting of electronically collected postal ballots. It is important to note that although the system has the words “Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot”, this refers to one way of the transmission, sending the ballot to the voters. The voters do not send any electronic vote, they print the ballots and send those printed ballot papers for counting.

ECI issues notice to Mid-day for spreading disinformation about the EVM

Regarding the specific incident that triggered baseless allegations and foundation for the fake news, ECI noted that action was already being taken in that matter and a criminal case was filed. It said, “Incidence at 27-Mumbai North West Constituency Counting Centre is about unauthorizedly using a mobile phone of an authorized person by a candidate’s aide. Criminal case has already been filed by the returning officer.” 

Regarding the allegations published in the Mid-day report, ECI stated, “There is no OTP (One Time Password) on mobile phone for unlocking EVM as it is non-programmable and it has no wireless communication capabilities. It is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper, which is being used by some leaders to create a false narrative.” 

It added, “..Safeguards include conducting everything in the presence of candidates or their agents. Counting of ETPBS happens in physical form (paper Ballots) and not electronics as being spread through the false narratives. Every counting sheet at every table for ETPBS and EVM counting and postal Ballot Counting (including ETPBS) is signed by counting agents after due diligence.”

The Retürning Officer has issued the notice to the Mid-Day newspaper for spreading disinformation about the EVM and creating doubts in the Indian Electrol System, the press release added. 

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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