EVM can be manipulated, says US academic

2022-10-09 10:26:48 By : Ms. Anna Zhong

Professor Matt Blaze of Georgetown University, USA has said that the electronic voting machine can be tampered with and the use of ballot paper-based voting system should be encouraged.

‘Any machine that is both used to cast votes and to record votes can be tampered with. Everybody who has looked at any piece of the technology used to record and cast votes has found consistently the same thing. This is true for the EVMs used in South Asia…,’ said Professor Blaze, while replying to a query on the technological vulnerabilities of the machine used in South Asia and in Bangladesh and India in particular.

Matt Blaze is currently the McDevitt Chair of Computer Science and Law at Georgetown University.

‘Any country that’s relying on this technology is playing with fire to a certain extent and I would very strongly urge that kind of technology to be replaced with a technology that keeps a reliable paper record of the voters’ choices backed up with post-election audits of that paper to ensure that the election outcome was reported correctly,’ said the US computer science academic.  

‘And that, again, gives you the benefit, not only do you safeguard against tampering, but you also can now refute the claims of a disgruntled losing candidate that some technological bug cost them the election unfairly,’ he added.

The Washington Foreign Press Center organised a virtual briefing on September 15 night for foreign journalists titled ‘A look at cyber security in the context of elections with Matt Blaze’.

Professor Blaze also explained cyber security in the context of elections — why and how it matters to test all aspects of election administration for vulnerabilities and how the civil society and the government can partner in this effort.

The Election Commission of Bangladesh is insisting on the use of EVMs in the coming parliamentary elections against stiff resistance and in a recent advertisement has claimed that none can manipulate the voting machine. 

‘It is not possible to hack EVMs and manage vote for another person,’ the advertisement read, adding that it can store the voting result and recounting is possible anytime.     

On September 6, 39 eminent citizens, including jurists, academics and civil rights campaigners, in a joint statement urged the Election Commission not to use electronic voting machines in the next general elections, saying that its decision to use the machines in a maximum of 150 seats would fuel further controversies.

They found the EVM to be a technically weak device as the existing machine does not have a voter-verified paper audit trail.

Late Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, chair of the technical advisory committee formed by the commission, did not sign the recommendation to buy EVMs in 2018, they noted.

EVMs have also been phased out in more technologically advanced countries such as Germany, France and the Netherlands. Currently, only 13 countries out of 178 in the world use EVMs in all their elections.

The EC has recently decided to use EVMs in between 70 and 150 seats in the next general election.

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