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EVM Hacking Challenge Begins, 2 Parties To Have A Go: 10 Points

During EVM (voting machine) challenge, ‘hackers’ will get four hours – from 10 am to 2 pm – and access to four machines each.

NEW DELHI:  A four-hour “hackathon” challenge for parties to prove allegations that EVMs or Electronic Voting Machines can be rigged began at the Election Commission’s office this morning. The Nationalist Congress Party and the CPM – the only parties to apply for the challenge – showed up in three-member teams for the challenge organized in separate halls. On Friday evening, the Uttarakhand High Court rejected a request to cancel the challenge organized by the powerful election body amid allegations by parties like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress that voting machines were manipulated to favour the ruling BJP in recent state elections.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this story:
  1. Fourteen randomly selected vote machines (EVMs) from a dozen constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand have been brought in a sealed condition for the challenge.
  2. Hackers have been given four hours till 2 pm and access to four machines each. The other EVMs will be kept as back up.
  3. The Election Commission has said its challenge has two parts – the hackers will have to prove that the EVMs used in the five states that just voted, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, were manipulated to favour a particular candidate or political party by altering the results stored in them.
  4. Part Two of the challenge calls for participants to prove that the machines used in the assembly polls were manipulated before or on the day of voting.
  5. The event began with a team of engineers giving a detailed demo of the EVMs and the VVPAT or voter-verifiable paper audit trail-equipped machines, which produce a paper receipt of the voter’s choice for proof.
  6. The participant will be considered “failed” if the EVM stops functioning as a result of its inbuilt defense mechanism against tampering.
  7. The participants can “physically examine” EVMs and check circuits, chips and motherboard, but cannot replace any part.
  8. AAP, which has been most aggressive in alleging EVM tampering, chose not to participate in the Election Commission’s challenge saying its rules were too restrictive.
  9. AAP has set up its own parallel hackathon today with prototypes of the EVM, asserting that it wants to prove the machines can be gamed. It has invited parties, people and even Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi to take a shot.
  10. Yesterday, a two-judge bench of the Uttarakhand High Court, while rejecting a petition to stop the challenge, frowned at the event observing that it “may influence the outcome of election petitions wittingly or unwittingly”.The high court also barred political parties and others from criticising the use of EVMs in the five state assembly elections “till pending election petitions are decided”.

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