Elon Musk Flags Risk of Poll Rigging in EVMs; BJP Leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar Reacts 'We would be happy to run a tutorial'

“This is a gigantic generalization which means no one can make secure digital hardware. No,” the former minister replied. “No connectivity, no Bluetooth, WiFi, Internet; there is no way in. Factory-programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed. Electronic voting machines can/should be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial, Elon.”

Elon Musk, the head of Tesla and SpaceX has warned against electronic voting machines (EVMs) citing their vulnerability to hacking. His comments come at a time when there is growing concern over the security of EVMs globally particularly after allegations of irregularities witnessed during Puerto Rico’s primary elections.

“Electronic voting machines should go away. The probability of being hacked by people or AI, though low, is yet too high,” he stated on X.

The issue of EVM safety has been thrust into the limelight due to recent controversies in Puerto Rico. Primary elections in this place were marred by numerous irregularities that were linked to EVMs although a paper trail enabled officials at election level to identify and correct vote tallies.

Mr. Musk responded this way because Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is the nephew of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States and an independent candidate in the 2024 US Presidential race, said, “Puerto Rico’s primary elections just experienced hundreds of voting irregularities related to electronic voting machines, according to the Associated Press. Fortunately for all concerned there was a paper trail that enabled them to identify the problem and rectify vote counts accordingly. What happens in jurisdictions where there is no paper trail?”

Kennedy Jr. calls for a return to paper ballots rather than electronic interference with elections so that each vote cast can be counted and election processes sustained.

However, while USA is experiencing growing concerns over EVMs, India has a different story on this issue. These are M3 EVMs being used by India which are tamper-proof as they represent the third generation of such machines. In case any attempts to tamper with them is detected these machine will go into ‘Safety Mode’ and become nonfunctional again

Mr. Musk’s assertion has been countered by former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar who calls it a “gigantic generalisation” and which he claims to be untrue.

“This is a gigantic generalization which means no one can make secure digital hardware. No,” the former minister replied. “No connectivity, no Bluetooth, WiFi, Internet; there is no way in. Factory-programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed. Electronic voting machines can/should be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial, Elon.”

Eminent Technical Expert Committee (TEC) on EVMs supports the Election Commission of India(ECI) through eminent professors team drawn from three prestigious Indian Institutes of Technologies(IITs) for latest upgrades for Indian EVMs.

Specialist in microelectronics and solid-state electronics Professor Dinesh K. Sharma of IIT Bombay told NDTV: “Indian EVMs are different from other EVMs in the world. The M3 EVMs have no connection to any other device including main power.”

This year, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of cross verification of votes cast on EVMs through paper slips generated by Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines. A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta dismissed petitions for 100 percent cross-verification and upheld the existing practice of checking five random EVMs per Assembly constituency.

Nonetheless, two directives were given to the Election Commission by the court. First, after loading symbols into an EVM, symbol loading unit must be sealed and kept in containers that were signed by candidates or their representatives. Secondly, these sealed containers together with EVM’s should be stored in storerooms not less than 45 days after poll results declaration.